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.
Here’s my state of this race!
1 . Cate Blanchett, Tár (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)
2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)
3. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 3) (E)
4. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 4) (E)
5. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: 5) (E)
6. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 6) (E)
7. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 8) (+1)
8. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 7) (-1)
9. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: 9) (E)
10. Rooney Mara, Women Talking (PR: 10) (E)
Best Director is up next!