Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Actress contenders

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Ahoy there folks! As you ladies and gentlemen 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. Emma Stone (La La Land) – I think you’re all noticing a pattern by now. La La Land seems like a huge player, so Stone makes a ton of sense in this top spot. She’s got a nomination and is in the age range that voters can sometimes like their winners in Best Actress. Everything just fits for her to be not just a top tier contender, but a potential victor as well. For the moment, Stone is in my pole position, with no signs of dropping off, at least until the film screens at the Venice Film Festival.

2. Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals or Arrival) – With someone as overdue as Adams, how can you not have her high up in one of the top two or three slots. Either for Arrival or perhaps more likely for Nocturnal Animals, she seems like a safe bet to be in heavy contention. We know that Adams will win one day, so it’s just a matter of if she’s got the right project this year/what the competition turns out to be. Don’t you dare sleep on her just yet, with potentially both flicks debuting at Venice…

3. Ruth Negga (Loving) – Ever since Loving debuted so well at the Cannes Film Festival, Negga seem like she’s in an excellent position to take one of the five openings in Actress here. She might be one small step down from Adams and Stone in terms of potential frontrunner status, but I’d argue that Negga is the most likely of anyone right now to be nominated. It’ll just be if she can turn that nod into a win when all is said and done. Stay tuned there!

4. Jennifer Lawrence (Passengers) – This comes with the slight caveat that Passengers could be delayed to next year, due to some legal issues with a special effects house, but if it’s not, Lawrence could certainly score another nomination. She’s quickly becoming an Academy favorite, so we know voters like her a great deal. That could make a nom just a foregone conclusion, but is she in a position to have a second Oscar just yet? Time will tell.

5. Emily Blunt (The Girl on the Train) – I could have gone a few different ways with the last nominated position, and I’m not too high on The Girl on the Train, but Blunt is certainly due her first citation. She might be weighed down by the film if it’s not good, but that remains to be seen. Her chances are directly tied into it, of course, so keep an ear to the ground about it. If it’s a player, Blunt will definitely be as well.

6. Viola Davis (Fences) – Not many people are paying attention to this adaptation just yet, but Fences could easily become a big deal before the year is out. If so, Davis will be in the mix. I nearly jumped her above Blunt already, but there’s plenty of time still of that. I’m sure there will be a part of the year where I have her in the top five. If she gets in, watch out for a Davis win too.

7. Rosamund Pike (A United Kingdom) – She was able to keep Gone Girl from getting shut out, so Pike deserves to be kept in mind for A United Kingdom. This seems like baity Oscar fare for sure, but that hasn’t been a done deal over the last few years, as voters have taken baby steps towards embracing more unusual projects. Her candidacy is under the radar right now, but it won’t be that way for long. Pike is another one to definitely not sleep on…

8. Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) – Streep is Streep after all, so never count her out. Florence Foster Jenkins might be too light for her fan block in the Academy, but that’s no foregone conclusion. She misses when she veers towards comedy from time to time, so I think a win is out of the question, with a nomination even being called into question. Again though, it’s Streep, so she’s never truly out of the running.

9. Marion Cotillard (Allied) – If this one is actually ready in time, then Cotillard should be in Oscar contention again. Allied seems like an old fashioned prestige picture, and that never hurts, though as mentioned above, it doesn’t close deals like it used to. She’s already won as well, which makes her citation less essential. Cotillard is well respected though, so we’ll just have to see how this one turns out, won’t we?

10. Alicia Vikander (The Light Between Oceans) – I’ll once again mention Vikander for this flick, as it’s one I cited last year. The Light Between Oceans has Disney backing, so if the reviews are there, a campaign will clearly follow closely behind for her. She’s got a chance, and with an iffy crop right now of other contenders, citing Vikander just made sense to me.

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

11. Annette Bening (20th Century Women)
12. Rooney Mara (Lion or Una)
13. Rebecca Hall (Christine)
14. Helen Mirren (Eye in the Sky)
15. Sally Field (Hello My Name is Doris)
16. Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
17. Michelle Williams (Certain Women)
18. Sasha Lane (American Honey)
19. Elle Fanning (About Ray)
20. Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply)

"Her" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals
Finally, here are ten more to give us a top 30 to cull from, just sans commentary as well:

21. Kristen Stewart (Personal Shopper or Equals)
22. Susan Sarandon (The Meddler)
23. Ellen Page (Talulah)
24. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane)
25. Naomi Watts (The Book of Henry)
26. Tilda Swinton (A Bigger Splash)
27. Anne Hathaway (Colossal)
28. Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones’ Baby)
29. Adele Haenel (The Unknown Girl)
30. Felicity Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story)

equals kristen stewart
That’s what the Best Actress race could potentially 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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