Hollywood Contenders – Looking at Best Actress hopefuls

You know what time it is. As you ladies and gentlemen are well aware of 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 all by now, I’m sure, but hey…

Today I’m continuing on 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. Jessica Chastain (Molly’s Game) – In what should be an intensely competitive Best Actress race, Chastain currently leads the field by a hair. Molly’s Game pairs her with Aaron Sorkin dialogue and apparently she aces that, which is total catnip to an Oscar voter. This is a loose frontrunner, but a frontrunner nonetheless. A lot will depend on how the film itself ends up faring this season.

2. Kate Winslet (Wonder Wheel) – Depending on how her film is Winslet, could easily be in a prime position to win Oscar number two. Wonder Wheel is a complete mystery right now, so this could go either way. Which version of a Woody Allen movie are we getting? In a few weeks the New York Film Festival will reveal all with this one, so stay tuned until then…

3. Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes) – Speaking of potential two time winners, Stone might even complete to become the rare back to back Academy Award winner. Assuming we see Battle of the Sexes capture the zeitgeist, bet against her at your own risk. She’s looking decently likely for a nomination at least. Unless her flick bottoms out, the odds are in her favor.

4. Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) – Assuming her movie keeps gaining fans like it currently is, Hawkins should be in the thick of it this year. Genre may end up keeping The Shape of Water from being as wide a player as it might otherwise have been, but that remains to be seen. For now, a lineup probably should include her.

5. Meryl Streep (The Post) – In accordance with California laws, Streep is once again in the hunt. Kidding aside, this flick could be an awards juggernaut, so of course she’ll find herself in the upper echelon of the Actress rankings. The Post is a total X factor right now though, so things could go either way. Sit tight!

6. Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) – Just outside the top five right now is McDormand, who seems to have a ton of upward mobility. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has been surging of late, so that can only help her. McDormand seems more likely as the weeks pass, doesn’t she?

7. Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul) – Dench is playing a very familiar role here, but she plays it well enough that voters may want to tap her one last time. This is comfort food, as Victoria & Abdul never really changes audiences, though AMPAS may not mind that one bit. This would be a safe nod, but those certainly happen all the time for veterans like Dench…

8. Jennifer Lawrence (mother!) – The divisive response to her film may torpedo her chances, but right now Lawrence still may force her way into the lineup. The precursors will have to save mother! in the months to come, so that’s worth keeping an eye out for. A nom may be harder to come by for her than usual, but she’s hardly out of the running just yet.

9. Annette Bening (Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool) – While it seems highly unlikely that Bening will win her first Oscar for this role, voters might decide to nominate her again. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool did get acquired recently, so it’s in play this year regardless. It’ll have to stand out from the rest of the pack, and that may prove the hardest part.

10. Tatiana Maslany (Stronger) *Could go Supporting – Depending on category placement, Maslany could be a dark horse Academy Award candidate. If she goes supporting, instead look to perhaps Margot Robbie for I, Tonya in this position. Especially if co-star Jake Gyllenhaal makes a run with Stronger, Maslany could come along for the ride. Gyllenhaal would certainly be a big help for her, so we’ll have to watch how he does for a sign about how she might do.

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

11. Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
12. Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
13. Carey Mulligan (Mudbound)
14. Daniela Vega (A Fantastic Woman)
15. Claire Foy (Breathe)
16. Diane Kruger (In the Fade)
17. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman)
18. Nicole Kidman (The Beguiled) *Could go Supporting
19. Helen Mirren (The Leisure Seeker)
20. Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick)

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

21. Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project)
22. Debra Winger (The Lovers)
23. Rebecca Hall (Professor Marston & the Wonder Women)
24. Anne Hathaway (Colossal)
25.Elizabeth Olsen (Wind River)
26. Marion Cotillard (Ismael’s Ghosts)
27. Jane Fonda (Our Souls at Night)
28. Brie Larsen (The Glass Castle)
29. Rooney Mara (Una)
30. Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

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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