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Jennifer Lawrence: Looking at potential Best Actress contenders

joy jennifer lawrence

HOLLYWOOD CONTENDERS: Ladies and gentlemen, as you all know from the last year or so as well as my handful of articles again during this year, it’s one thing to read early Academy Award predictions at this point in the year in order to see what folks like myself think will happen six or so months from now, but it’s a whole other thing entirely to actually know something about what will be in contention. To help out in that regard, I’m once again running down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category in order to prep you all for the season to come. Basically, the format will have me saying a few words about what/who I feel are the top tier contenders right now in said categories, along with a longer list afterwards of many of the other hopefuls that the Academy might take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket. It’s probably old hat to you by now, I’m sure, but hey…

Today I’m continuing with another of the bigger ones that’s out there…the Best Actress category.

Here are the ten lovely ladies that I have in play for Best Actress, with the top five of course cracking the presumed lineup at this point:

1. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) – You can go in any number of directions with your top pick, but I think the obvious choice right now is Lawrence. She’s been nominated both times previously working with David O. Russell, with a Best Actress statue on her mantle already. She nearly won Best Supporting Actress two years ago as well, so the Academy clearly loves this combination. With as baity a part as ever, if she nails it there’s no reason not to think she could run away with a second Oscar.

Comic-Con International San Diego 2015 - Day 3

2. Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn) – For some reason, I feel like Ronan is almost a surefire nominee for this romantic drama period piece, and while I know she could certainly contend for the win, I just can’t put her up top yet. Maybe it’s the thought of how dominant a Lawrence steamroller could be, but I just need to see how this one does during the precursor season. Ronan has a great shot though, no one can deny that.

brooklyn saoirse ronan

3. Cate Blanchett (Carol) *Could go Supporting – The safe pick of the group right now, many have assumed Blanchett would win for this romance, but Rooney Mara’s win at Cannes makes me wonder if Harvey Weinstein might try to clear the way for her with Blanchett going Supporting. He could also get greedy and have them both in Lead, though I think whichever one is in Lead gets nominated and Supporting would easily find room for the other. If they share a category, it’ll be one or the other. That being said, I likely expect to see Blanchett in the running again for this one.

Cate Blanchett Carol in car

Carol Rooney Mara  Cate Blanchett jpg

4. Sandra Bullock (Our Brand is Crisis) – I just wrote about Bullock’s potential candidacy earlier this week, but I maintain that this is a big X factor. If the film is good, there’s no reason not to look for her to very much be in play here. Dark horse candidacies have done her well in the past, so it might very well happen again here. I doubt she’d win, but a nomination could be attained for sure.

Sandra Bullock

5. Lily Tomlin (Grandma) – Perhaps a bold choice for the final nominated slot right now, but having seen the film, I feel like some voters will all but reserve a spot for her once they lay eyes on it. Tomlin is so great here, I’d almost say that she’s a threat to win if things break a certain way. That remains to be seen, but if her performance catches on, don’t be shocked if she turns out to be a much bigger threat than you’d expect…

Lily Tomlin Grandma

6. Brie Larson (Room) – The first look for this flick shot Larson all the way up from the bottom of my predictions (though I love her and would love to see her make up for the Short Term 12 snub) to almost cracking the top five. She looks tremendous in this indie which screams “awards”. It’ll have to get seen in order to contend, but I think Larson clearly is going to have a shot, and that’s a really good thing.

room brie larson

7. Julianne Moore (Freeheld) – Right after winning Best Actress last year, I’m not sure the Academy will nominate Moore again so quickly, but anything is possible. Her civil rights drama looks very good, so depending on how Ellen Page is campaigned, she could find herself in contention again as well. A snub won’t hurt, considering the statue she just received, but another citation isn’t out of the cards either.

Julianne Moore

8. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl or The Light Between Oceans *Possible 2016 release) – A lot will depend on if The Danish Girl is a Lead or Supporting performance, but I have a hunch that her main shot is with The Light Between Oceans, which isn’t necessarily hitting this year. If it’s a 2016 release, obviously she’ll be a less likely contender, but as an “It Girl” right now, if it’s in 2015 and good, she could really find herself in heavy play for her first nomination. Sit tight for more information on these.

Alicia Vikander The Danish Girl

9. Emily Blunt (Sicario) – I feel like many are underestimating Blunt here, since a kick ass female contender would certainly help liven up the awards season. Oscar does appreciate tough women more than you’d expect, so she’d be following in some solid footsteps if she was able to score a nomination for this part. She’ll likely come up just short, but if the movie plays well in other categories…watch out.

Emily Blunt Sicario

10. Angelina Jolie (By the Sea) – The recent debut of a Teaser Trailer of sorts for this project she’s also written and directed showcases what could be a dynamite performance by Jolie. I had originally had ladies like Marion Cotillard, Rooney Mara, Carey Mulligan, and Meryl Streep fighting for this spot, but Jolie launched her way in just at the last minute. If we see more like what we saw there, she could continue on an upward trajectory as well. Stay tuned…

Angelina Jolie By The Sea

Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans any commentary here) for Best Actress:

11. Marion Cotillard (Macbeth)
12. Rooney Mara (Carol) *Currently predicted in Supporting
13. Meryl Streep (Ricki and the Flash)
14. Carey Mulligan (Suffragette)
15. Blythe Danner (I’ll See You In My Dreams)
16. Amy Schumer (Trainwreck)
17. Juliette Binoche (Clouds of Sils Maria)
18. Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) *Could go Supporting
19. Greta Gerwig (Mistress America)
20. Melissa McCarthy (Spy)

Finally, here are ten more to give us a top 30 to cull from, just sans commentary as well:

21. Kristen Stewart (Equals)
22. Carmen Ejogo (Born to be Blue)
23. Margot Robbie (Z for Zachariah)
24. Kate Winslet (The Dressmaker)
25. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (The Whole Truth)
26. Tilda Swinton (A Bigger Splash)
27. Mia Wasikowska (Crimson Peak)
28. Sally Field (Hello My Name is Doris)
29. Maika Monroe (It Follows)
30. Bérénice Marlohe (5 to 7)

That’s what the Best Actress race could be made up of this year folks. Stay tuned next week for my look at the Best Supporting Actor race!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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