It’s that time again to take another look at this year’s Oscar race. Previously, I’ve done Picture, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor. Now, we tackle one of the toughest races with an embarrassment of riches, and no obvious front runner (like some other categories might have. So strap in, and let’s go!
1) Danielle Detweiler (Till)
Even though I had Till pretty high on my Best Picture rankings, there’s a chance that this film transforms, as it already kind of is, into a conversation about Detweiler’s performance as the mother of the slain Emmett Till. While the film has earned a lot of praise, the conversation keeps coming back to this singular performance being revelatory, and it might be just the kind of thing that becomes so focused on getting this one nomination, that the campaign becomes so strong, she ends up winning. Plus, her biggest competition right now is trying to overcome that this would be her 3rd win. Detweiler has the breakthrough performance feel, like they’ve discovered someone who will go on to do great things. The downside, is that this category is not known for awarding black actresses. Can Detweiler overcome that terrible statistic the first time out?
2) Cate Blanchett (Tar)
Blanchett has to convince voters that the performance many are calling her best ever is worthy of her third Oscar. It’s not unheard of, but three acting wins is kind of rare. Frances McDormand was the last one to complete this feat (Fargo, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing MO, and Nomadland). Can Blanchett match her? That’s a tough call. I have her in second because she failed to get a nomination for Supporting actress last year for nightmare Alley, so I’m less sure how beloved she is to power through to a third win. She has 7 nominations already.
3) Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
I feel pretty good that this film will ride the wave all the way to the Oscars, and Yeoh has to be a part of that. This would be her first nomination, after a long career. It’s a pretty safe bet, and I’d say she even has an outside chance of winning as her film has out grossed (and will continue to stay ahead of) Tar and Till.
4) Margot Robbie (Babylon)
The first sight unseen prediction. Robbie’s star power has been rising, and she’s already been nominated before. If Chazelle’s Babylon is any good, she could get a nomination. I’ve heard there are rumors of running her in Supporting, but right now, she’s in lead, and I can’t see voters changing their minds about that.
5) Michelle Williams (The Fablemans)
I’d rank her higher, but I think this is category fraud. Everyone who has seen The Fablemans is baffled by the submission for lead, and i have her on my Supporting Actress list, because the voters don’t always pay attention to campaigns (see: Kate Winslet in The reader). If Williams feels Supporting, she will likely be nominated in that regard. One thing feels sure, her praise is so high, she must be getting nominated. She’s also never won, which I still find mind boggling that she lost for Brokeback Mountain.
6) Naomi Aoki (I Wanna Dance With Somebody)
The Whitney Houston biopic has a much better release date than Respect did last year. A solid release date helped Andra Day to a nomination just a few years ago. unless this movie is awful, which no one knows, I think she’s a strong contender for a nomination.
7) Olivia Coleman (Empire Of Light)
There is a very real possibility that Sam Mendes’ film and its lukewarm reception keeps Coleman out of the race this year. However, she’s already been nominated multiple times, and has one win. She may end up being the films only nomination if a couple things happen. if Williams ends up in Supporting, and Babylon and I Wanna Dance With Somebody fall apart, then suddenly, she’s in. She just needs some other things to move on their own, because her film has no momentum.
8) Viola Davis (The Woman king)
Everyone loves Davis, and this film as a crowd pleaser, as well as getting great reviews. The problem is no one knows what to do with it in Oscar predictions. It’s a bit more action than people would like, and it has like four supporting actresses all equally deserving. This is where Davis could shine, as the lead, and breakthrough. Maybe.
9) Jennifer Lawrence (Causeway)
It’s not like apple has a ton of stuff to push this year. I’ve seen this, I’d be surprised if she got nominated, but Lawrence has won before, and has multiple nominations to her name, so I will not count her out completely. Plus, Apple just won Best Picture and they know how to campaign.
10) Ana De Armas (Blonde)
She won’t. Right? I mean, this is currently at the top of my list. She gave everything she had for this role, but the film was poorly received, and that NC-17 rating will mean de Armas has to wait a bit longer to become an Oscar nominee.
11) Emma Thompson (Good Luck To You Leo Grand)
If you’ve seen this, you know how good she was in it. If there was justice, she’d be in the conversation a hell of a lot more than she is, which is part of why I’m putting her here. Let’s talk more about this film, and at least try to remember a random indie from June that just landed softly on Hulu.
12) Rooney Mara (Women Talking)
I’ve been told this is amazing. I’ve been told that this is a lock in several categories, and the ensemble is great and deep. They are running Mara in lead, and if Women Talking really takes off, she has been nominated before. She’s a long shot, but she’s here.
13) Zoey Kazan (She Said)
In the battle of Kazan vs Mulligan, it was determined Kazan has slightly more presence, and got submitted in lead. that didn’t stop judas and the Black Messiah voters from determining that film has no lead actor. This depends on how well She Said takes off.
14) Taylor Russell (Bones and All)
I’ll play along, and say there’s an outside, remote chance that Russell gets a nomination. All the critics love her work here, she’s apparently a breakthrough. She carries the damn film. you know who else carried her film? Amelia jones. Ask her about that Oscar nomination she got for being the lead actress in last year’s Oscar winner. oh, wait.
15) Dale Dickey ( A Love Song)
How crazy would it be to see a long time character actress finally get her recognition? It’s not that hard to believe, yet Ann Dowd missing out last year with Mass, a film that had a lot more buzz than this, makes me feel like Dickey better enjoy that Gotham nomination.
16) Florence Pugh (Don’t Worry darling)
I don’t see a path, but she was the best thing about this film, and I said I was going to 20. Remember, only five actually make the cut.
17) Emma Corrine (Lady Chatterly’s Lover)
She’s got both My Policeman and lady Chatterly’s Lover this year, and she was good in the first. She was also great in The Crown. She has a very small window here, and her film needs like a perfect set of reviews, and an explosion on Netflix to launch her campaign.
18) Florence Pugh (the Wonder)Th
E other thing hurting her chances is that she’s actually competing against herself with two well received performances in films she apparently anchors that are going nowhere.
19) Tang Wei (Decision To Leave)
Unlike last years surprise nod for Penelope Cruz, Wei doesn’t ahve the name recognition. She does have a much stronger film, that does have a shot at multiple nominations. This is a tough category, and there’s something odd about whether or not she’d be the films only nomination.
20) Leticia Wright (Black Panther: wakanda Forever)
I’ll swing big with this last slot. I’d love to put Amber Midthunder here for Prey, but that’s ineligible due to a lack of a theatrical release. So, with Black Panther just out, and getting decent reception, with Wright being at the front of the future of this series, there’s a shot she rides some Charlize Theron in Mad MAx Fury Road style campaign to the top five. It’s a very very small one though.