We have reached Best Actress in my deep dives of the major Oscar races. If you didn’t catch my takes on the supporting derbies and lead actor, you can access them here:
Before we get to this very competitive Actress competition, let’s see how I did at this point in the calendar from 2019-21. Three years ago, I managed to identify all 5 eventual nominees – winner Renee Zellweger (Judy), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). For the late October/early November frame in 2020 and 2021, I correctly called 3 of the 5. In 2020, that was Frances McDormand (Nomadland), who won her third Oscar along with Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman). Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were mentioned in Other Possibilities. The victor was also named last year with Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye as well as Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer). Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) were in Other Possibilities.
So if the last three years are any precursor, you should find the eventual quintet in my ten picks! Frances McDormand could have company with performers sporting a trio of gold statues. A Supporting Actress winner in 2004 for The Aviator and lead actress recipient for 2013’s Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett is drawing some career best kudos for Tár. She’s been in my #1 spot for weeks and if she wins, she’d join McDormand, Katherine Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman as the only actresses to win more than two Oscars.
Her main competition could come from several performers. Michelle Yeoh is receiving a massive push for Everything Everywhere All at Once, which is a threat to win numerous big races including Best Picture. There’s another Michelle and it’s a surprise… Michelle Williams. As I discussed in my Supporting Actress write-up, her performance in The Fabelmans would likely be a guaranteed winner in that category. With the more competitive vibe of lead actress, it’s not even a guarantee that she makes it in.
While Till may struggle to get recognition elsewhere despite strong reviews and an A+ Cinemascore, Danielle Deadwyler looks pretty strong to make the cut. On the other hand, so-so critical reaction could prevent Olivia Colman (Empire of Light) from getting her fourth nod in five years.
There are two performances yet to be seen that could both make a splash: Margot Robbie for Babylon and Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance with Somebody. It’s easy to envision either rising up if the reactions are positive enough.
Despite solid box office, Viola Davis could face an uphill battle for The Woman King. That narrative could change if both Robbie and Ackie falter. Some intensely negative audience and critical buzz for Blonde may leave Ana de Armas out. And there’s always potential dark horses. Emma Thompson will probably get a Golden Globes nom for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, but Academy inclusion could be a reach. Women Talking‘s Rooney Mara might be ignored in favor of her supporting costars like Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley. Causeway may not draw enough attention for Jennifer Lawrence to make it and the same holds true for The Wonder‘s Florence Pugh. Decision to Leave (despite having a chance to take International Feature Film) may not see its cast be a factor. That would leave out Tang Wei.
Obviously release dates and category placements can (and will) change, but I honestly had a tough time whittling this list down to 15 names. Leaving out Jennifer Lawrence (Red, White and Water) and Tilda Swinton (Three Thousand Years of Living) or Florence Pugh (Don’t Worry Darling) seems a bit risky. It’s a sign of how competitive Actress could be for 2022 – just as it was the past two years.
Like with the other derbies, here’s how I see the race playing out nearly a year ahead of time.
My big announcement today is the selection of my first candidates for Best Actress in the 2020 Oscar field! If you happened to miss my predictions for the supporting categories and Best Actor, you can find them right here:
Unlike Best Actor, none of my initial top 5 picks here have seen their pictures screened. As discussed in previous posts, 2020 is a mighty speculative year for these early August estimates. The potential contenders are certainly some heavy hitters and it was, frankly, hard to whittle the list to this quintet. 4 of my 5 choices here are past winners. Both Viola Davis and Jennifer Hudson are Supporting Actress victors for 2016’s Fences and 2006’s Dreamgirls respectively. Frances McDormand is a two-time lead Actress winner for 1996’s Fargo and 2017’s Three Billboards Outside, Missouri. Kate Winslet took this prize in 2008 for The Reader. The only non-winner is Michelle Pfeiffer and she’s been nominated three times. If she makes it here, it would mark her first nod in 28 years since 1992’s Love Field.
This is in addition to acclaimed actresses such as Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, and Julianne Moore as possibilities and up and comers like Jessie Buckley, Liu Yifei, and Rachel Zegler. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the silver screen return of cinematic legend Sophia Loren. She last won an Oscar for Two Women some 60 years ago. Elisabeth Moss has two already released pics for which she’s received solid reviews. Of the two, Shirley seems more viable than the horror hit The Invisible Man.
In 2019, my original late summer projections yielded a whopping 4 of the 5 eventual nominees: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). In my ten other possibilities, I also identified eventual trophy recipient Renee Zellweger as Judy.
Lots of intrigue in this race and here’s the first take:
EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Jennifer Hudson, Respect
Frances McDormand, Nomadland
Michelle Pfeiffer, French Exit
Kate Winslet, Ammonite
Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy
Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Rashida Jones, On the Rocks
Sophia Loren, The Life Ahead
Julianne Moore, The Glorias
Elisabeth Moss, Shirley
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
Liu Yifei, Mulan
Rachel Zegler, West Side Story
That completes the acting portions of the early predictions and Best Director is up next! Until then…
This brings us to Best Actress with a snapshot of the contenders before festival season kicks into high gear later this week. When I did my inaugural projections for this race in August 2018, it yielded two of the eventual nominees – Lady Gaga for AStarIsBorn and Glenn Close as TheWife. In the other possibilities portion naming ten others, winner Olivia Colman for TheFavourite and Melissa McCarthy in CanYouEverForgiveMe? were named.
As mentioned in those posts, these are an early bird snapshot of where I see the races before they come into sharper focus beginning next week. That’s when the film festival kicks off and many of the Oscar bait fall titles will be screened for critics. Starting next Thursday (August 30), I’ll begin posting my weekly ranked predictions in the major film categories.
Today brings us Best Actress and I’ll have Best Actor up later today!
Sebastian Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman is a Chilean import that made waves when it premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. The drama boasts a 100% rating currently on Rotten Tomatoes and is Chile’s official submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars.
Chances are quite good it will land a nomination there, but it could also make Oscar history if its recognized in another race. Daniela Vega has landed raves for her performance. If she was able to nab a Best Actress nomination, Vega would be the first transgender performer to do so.
In another year, the critical acclaim and history making might be enough to make the final five. In 2017, it could be a long shot because this race is jam packed. At this juncture, Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes and Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri look like they’re in. Meryl Streep’s work in Steven Spielberg’s The Post has yet to be screened, but it sure sounds like an Oscar type role. That’s in addition to a host of other possibilities, including Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Kate Winslet (Wonder Wheel), Judi Dench (Victoria and Abdul), and Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game).
That said, there could still be room for a “surprise” nod and Vega would seem to fit the bill. I currently have her listed at #9 in the race and we’ll see how the coming weeks play out.
In my earliest of Oscar predictions now that autumn and festival season is upon us, we’ve arrived at Best Actress! If you missed my previous posts on the Supporting categories, you may peruse them here:
Yesterday’s Venice screening of The Shape of Water significantly increased the possibility that Sally Hawkins could find herself in the mix. Another piece of the puzzle should come into focus this weekend as Frances McDormand’s work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is screened for festival goers. Same goes for Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes, Judi Dench in Victoria and Abduland Jennifer Lawrence in mother!
Obviously, there’s much uncertainty at this juncture but not for long and here’s my first pass at Best Actress:
TODD’S FIRST PREDICTIONS – BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Meryl Streep, The Papers
Jane Fonda, Our Souls at Night
Isabelle Huppert, Happy End
Diane Kruger, In the Fade
Jennifer Lawrence, mother!
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outisde Ebbing, Missouri
Hello all! Welcome to December and welcome to my weekly Thursday Oscar predictions!
It’s been seven days since my last Turkey Day estimates in the eight major categories. A lot can change in a week and there’s been significant developments since we were all couch bound after our Thanksgiving feasts.
Let us count them…
1) Martin Scorsese’s Silence finally held some screenings, meaning buzz is out. Official reviews are embargoed until December 10, but the first reactions indicate that the director’s latest could be a force in the Oscar race. My predictions reflect that. Furthermore, initial word makes one wonder whether it’ll be Liam Neeson or Adam Driver that get the lion’s share of attention in Supporting Actor.
2) A number of awards precursors have rolled out their winners and nominations. We begin with the National Board of Review. Yesterday, the NBR bestowed their winners upon us. They are: Manchester by the Sea (Best Film), Barry Jenkins for Moonlight (Director), Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea (Actor), Amy Adams in Arrival (Actress), Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water (Supporting Actor), Naomie Harris in Moonlight (Supporting Actor), Manchester by the Sea (Original Screenplay), and Silence (Adapted Screenplay). The critics organization also lists ten other pictures on the year’s best list and they are: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hail Caesar!, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Moonlight, Patriots Day, Silence, and Sully. Now – the NBR’s list of films have not and will not match what the Academy does. For instance, Hail Caesar! is not going to nab a Best Picture nod (it’s never been in my top 20 list of possibles and still isn’t). All the others, however, are at least feasible. The most notable snub is Fences, though I’d say it’s still near the top for Academy recognition. Lion is another notable omission.
3) The Critics Choice Awards came out today with their nominations. An important caveat: Silence (and Passengers and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) weren’t screened in time for consideration. The CCA nominates 10 pictures and they are: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, Loving, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, and Sully. Another note: the upcoming Jackie got no Picture love from the NBR or CCA.
There are seven nominees for Best Director and six each in the acting and screenplay races. They are:
Director: Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), Denis Villeneueve (Arrival), and Denzel Washington (Fences). Gibson’s nod is a fascinating one and he may have slightly increased his chances at Oscar attention. That said, it’s important to remember that Scorsese (who’s almost sure to get a nomination) was ineligible.
Actor: Casey Affleck (Manchester), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Tom Hanks (Sully), and Denzel Washington (Fences). Nothing out of the ordinary here, though Garfield seems more likely to get Acting attention for Silence via the Academy.
Actress: Amy Adams (Arrival), Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), and Emma Stone (La La Land). Note: No nod for either Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) or Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane).
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Ben Foster (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Dev Patel (Lion), and Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals). Note: While some awards prognosticators have listed Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins as a possibility, his fortunes seem to be dwindling. Also, no Mykelti Williams or Stephen Henderson for Fences.
Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences), Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures), and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea). No real surprises here.
Original Screenplay: Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Loving, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight. Again, no shocks though the ignoring of Jackie continues here.
Adapted Screenplay: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Nocturnal Animals, Sully. With Hacksaw getting Pic and Director and Actor attention, a bit surprising it didn’t land a nod here.
4) The New York Film Critics Circle named their winners today. La La Land (the current front runner for Best Picture) was victorious. However, Director went to Barry Jenkins yet again for his work in Moonlight. Casey Affleck took another Actor prize with Isabelle Huppert in Elle helping her case out with an Actress win. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) and Michelle Williams (for both Manchester and Certain Women) won their Supporting categories. The NYFCC combines screenplay into one and Manchester took top honors there.
Whew. Lots of information, I know, with plenty to digest! Taking all that into account and knowing there’s a bunch more precursors to come – here’s where I have the eight major races standing at this moment:
1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 1)
2. Silence (PR: 4)
3. Moonlight (PR: 3)
4. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 6)
5. Fences (PR: 2)
6. Lion (PR: 5)
7. Arrival (PR: 8)
8. Hidden Figures (PR: 10)
9. Loving (PR: 7)
10. Hell or High Water (PR: 11)
11. Jackie (PR: 9)
12. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: 16)
13. Sully (PR: 15)
14. Patriots Day (PR: 13)
15. 20th Century Women (PR: 12)
16. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 17)
17. Live by Night (PR: 14)
18. Passengers (PR: Not Ranked)
19. The Jungle Book (PR: 18)
20. The Founder (PR: 19)
1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land (PR: 1)
2. Martin Scorsese, Silence (PR: 2)
3. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (PR: 4)
4. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 3)
5. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)
6. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival (PR: 6)
7. Garth Davis, Lion (PR: 7)
8. Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)
9. Jeff Nichols, Loving (PR: 8)
10. Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)
Pablo Larrain, Jackie
1. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 1)
2. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)
3. Tom Hanks, Sully (PR: 4)
4. Ryan Gosling, La La Land (PR: 5)
5. Andrew Garfield, Silence (PR: 9)
6. Joel Edgerton, Loving (PR: 3)
7. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic (PR: 7)
8. Michael Keaton, The Founder (PR: 6)
9. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)
10. Matthew McConaughey, Gold (PR: 10)
Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply
1. Emma Stone, La La Land (PR: 1)
2. Natalie Portman, Jackie (PR: 2)
3. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women (PR: 3)
4. Ruth Negga, Loving (PR: 4)
5. Amy Adams, Arrival (PR: 6)
6. Isabelle Huppert, Elle (PR: 8)
7. Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane (PR: 5)
8. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 7)
9. Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)
10. Rebecca Hall, Christine (PR: 9)
Best Supporting Actor
1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (PR: 1)
2. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 3)
3. Dev Patel, Lion (PR: 2)
4. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)
5. Mykelti Williamson, Fences (PR: 4)
6. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (PR: 6)
7. Adam Driver, Silence (PR: Not Ranked)
8. Liam Neeson, Silence (PR: 8)
9. Stephen Henderson, Fences (PR: 7)
10. Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures (PR: Not Ranked)
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie
Best Supporting Actress
1. Viola Davis, Fences (PR: 1)
2. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (PR: 2)
3. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 3)
4. Nicole Kidman, Lion (PR: 4)
5. Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women (PR: 5)
6. Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures (PR: 6)
7. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures (PR: 7)
8. Molly Shannon, Other People (PR: 8)
9. Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky (PR: 9)
10. Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold (PR: Not Ranked)
Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls
Best Original Screenplay
1. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)
2. Moonlight (PR: 1)
3. La La Land (PR: 3)
4. Hell or High Water (PR: 4)
5. Loving (PR: 6)
6. 20th Century Women (PR: 5)
7. The Lobster (PR: 8)
8. Jackie (PR: 7)
9. Patriots Day (PR: Not Ranked)
10. Captain Fantastic (PR: 9)
Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Fences (PR: 1)
2. Silence (PR: 3)
3. Lion (PR: 2)
4. Arrival (PR: 5)
5. Hidden Figures (PR: 6)
6. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 4)
7. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: 8)
8. Sully (PR: 10)
9. Elle (PR: 9)
10. Indignation (PR: Not Ranked)
Live by Night
Whew! And there you have it…
Let’s see what transpires over the next 7 days until my next round! Until then…
Day 3 of my early Oscar predictions arrives with Best Actress. These late August/early September guesstimates yielded two of the eventual nominees in 2014 and three last year.
Looking over the field of possibilities for Best Actress in 2016, one thing seems clear. More than most years, this particular race seems loaded with legitimate contenders and it could be one of the more competitive categories of the year.
Let’s start with three actresses who have received nominations but never won: four-time nominee and never winner Annette Bening is headlining this fall’s 20th Century Women. She was a strong contender for wins in both 1999 and 2004 (for American Beauty and Being Julia), but lost out in both cases to Hilary Swank.
There’s five-time nominee and never winner Amy Adams, who has two pictures in which she could be recognized: Arrival and Nocturnal Animals.
We have Viola Davis in this December’s Denzel Washington directed Fences. She was nominated for 2011’s The Help but lost to Meryl Streep in her role as The Iron Lady.
Speaking of Meryl Streep… there’s Meryl Streep going for her 20th nomination as Florence Foster Jenkins. Its potential drawback could be muted box office numbers this summer, but you can never count her out.
Emma Stone will likely draw attention for her work in the musical drama La La Land. Ruth Negga has received early raves costarring in the interracial romance Loving. Then there’s the biopic Jackie (as in Kennedy), which casts 2010 winner Natalie Portman in the title role. She could be a major contender, yet there’s some uncertainty as to when it’ll come out.
Oh there’s more! Jennifer Lawrence will go for her fifth nomination in seven years with sci-fi drama Passengers. Emily Blunt could be a player with The Girl on the Train, as could previous nominees Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane), Rosamund Pike (A United Kingdom), and Rooney Mara (Lion). Not to mention previous winners like Sally Field (My Name is Doris), Helen Mirren (Eye in the Sky) and Marion Cotillard (Allied).
Bottom line: this race looks packed and we’ll see how it develops in the coming weeks. For now…
This evening on the blog, we continue on with my very early and first predictions for the 2015 Oscars and we’ve come to Best Actress. This category, just like Supporting Actor and Actress, yielded two out of the five nominees when I made my predictions in 2014 with 1 other that was nominated being mentioned as an other possibility.
Astonishingly, the group of actresses that could be honored in 2015 encompasses seven out of the eight past winners of the award. 2007 winner Marion Cotillard is getting buzz for Macbeth, though it’s unclear whether she’ll be campaigned for here or in supporting. 2008 winner Kate Winslet has this fall’s The Dressmaker. 2009 winner Sandra Bullock headlines this October’s Our Brand is Crisis. 2011’s Meryl Streep had Ricki and the Flash last month. It’s always foolish to count her out, but the film’s low box office and mixed critical response could hinder her chances. 2012’s Jennifer Lawrence teams with David O. Russell again for Joy and her two previous films with him both landed her Oscar nods and a win for Silver Linings Playbook. 2013’s Cate Blanchett seems practically guaranteed a nod for Todd Haynes’s Carol, which premiered to raves at Cannes. 2014’s Julianne Moore has Freeheld out soon and it could make her a contender again.
Ultimately, however, my early predictions only have two of these women ending up with nominations. Alicia Vikander (who made a splash already this year with Ex Machina) is bound to get attention for Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl. Carey Mulligan stars in the womens voting rights drama Suffragette. Saoirse Ronan has already gotten raves on the festival circuit for this autumn’s immigration tale Brooklyn.
More possibilities abound. Veteran comedian/actress Lily Tomlin is being praised for the indie pic Grandma. Emily Blunt stars in the action drama Sicario this September. Angelina Jolie directs and stars in By the Sea. And we can’t count out Charlize Theron in this summer’s Mad Max: Fury Road, even though it’s difficult for the action genre to give us acting nominees. It is worth noting that it happened with Sigourney Weaver nearly 30 years ago with Aliens.
This race looks to be one of the most competitive with a whole lot of huge stars going for the prize. And here’s my first take:
TODD’S EARLY PREDICTIONS – BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Carey Mulligan, Suffragette
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Emily Blunt, Sicario
Sandra Bullock, Our Brand is Crisis
Marion Cotillard, Macbeth
Angelina Jolie, By the Sea
Julianne Moore, Freeheld
Meryl Streep, Ricki and the Flash
Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lily Tomlin, Grandma
Kate Winslet, The Dressmaker
For my previous posts with early predictions on Supporting Actor and Actress, click here: