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Taking a look at potential Best Actress contenders

Ahoy there! Welcome to the last day of August. You know what time it is, I’m sure. 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. Felicity Jones (On the Basis of Sex) – Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to Best Actress right now. For the moment, I default to Jones. After all, she’s playing Ruth Bader Ginsberg. If nothing else, On the Basis of Sex seems baity, right? Time will tell, but until proven otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with Jones in the pole position.

2. Stefani Germanotta [Lady Gaga] (A Star is Born) – If the rumors about this film are true, nominations will be coming across the board for it. Lady Gaga would certainly be a draw. We’re about to find out just how good A Star is Born really is. Should it live up to the hype, she could easily slide into the top spot…

3. Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots) – Speaking of rumors, there are some floating about that this movie isn’t necessarily an Oscar player. If that’s true, Ronan will fall back. Otherwise, she’s getting close to being due a win. Consider her in flux right now. The ball is truly in Mary Queen of Scots’ court, no pun intended.

4. Glenn Close (The Wife) – If there’s a default veteran who’s overdue for an Academy Award in the race, it’s Close. She already looks to take up the older legend position in the Actress field. If The Wife was a stronger film, she’d be in the number one slot right now. That being said, count her out at your own risk…

5. Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) – If the film is up to snuff, McCarthy could certainly be in play for her second nomination. Provided that voters take her seriously here, she should be in contention. Can You Ever Forgive Me? looks to make its mark shortly, so stay tuned for word on this one!

6. Olivia Colman (The Favourite) – The Venice Film Festival has let loose raves for Colman in this flick. As such, she looms as a big Best Actress threat for The Favourite. In a way, this would be a breakthrough citation of sorts, and there’s often one of those in the lineup. If someone like Ronan falters, Colman will be lying in wait.

7. Viola Davis (Widows) – Rumors have this being more of a popcorn film than anything else. That could keep Davis out of the running, but even if Widows is genre fare, a nomination wouldn’t be totally out of the question. Frankly, would you put a nomination past Davis at all, at this point?

8. Nicole Kidman (Destroyer) – When in doubt, pay attention to Kidman. Not much is known about Destroyer, but she undeniably has voters in her corner. Much like Davis above, she can rise above her flick, potentially. This will be one to keep a close eye on. It has the potential to upend the race if it’s something special…

9. Carey Mulligan (Wildlife) – I’ve seen this movie, and Mulligan is terrific. She anchors Wildlife with a quiet desperation and sadness that’s riveting. She’s overdue to be welcomed into the Oscar field, so don’t count her out. If nothing else, she deserves a shot here. Fingers crossed she’s not ignored during the season, but time will tell.

10. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (All About Nina) – The best performance I’ve witnessed by an actress this year belongs to Winstead. As such, that puts this dark horse candidate above other compelling possibilities like Emily Blunt for Mary Poppins Returns and Toni Collette for Hereditary. What Winstead does in All About Nina deserves an Academy Award. While it may end up a long shot, don’t count her out!

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

11. Toni Collette (Hereditary)
12. Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns)
13. Kristen Stewart (JT Leroy)
14. Julia Roberts (Ben is Back)
15. Rachel Weisz (Disobedience or The Favourite)
15. Kiki Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk)
16. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Kindergarten Teacher)
17. Keira Knightley (Colette)
18. Chloe Grace Moretz (The Miseducation of Cameron Post)
19. Hilary Swank (What They Had)
20. Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians)

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

21. Charlize Theron (Tully)
22. Natalie Portman (Annihilation)
23. Rosamund Pike (A Private War)
24. Penelope Cruz (Everybody Knows)
25. Kiersey Clemons (Hearts Beat Loud)
26. Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace)
27. Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade)
28. Chloë Sevigny (Lizzie)
29. Dakota Johnson (Supsiria)
30. Zoey Deutch (Flower)

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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