Looking At Potential Best Actress Contenders


Here there! Welcome to the very last days of August. You know what time it is, I’m sure. Not just a last chance at a beach day, but a time to check in on the Oscar race. 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. Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story) – Could this be the year Johansson finally breaks through with Oscar? Moreover, could she actually win Best Actress? Marriage Story looks like the sort of thing the Academy Awards will go all in for. If that’s the case, she’ll be a threat to win, not just for her first nomination. At the moment, she’s way in the lead, at least in my eyes.

2. Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) – If a prestige biopic is going to be rewarded here, as has been the case in years past, Erivo is the most likely benefactor. Harriet could go in any number of directions, but as long as it doesn’t seem too “safe” for the new Academy, she’ll be in play for the win all season long…

3. Natalie Portman (Lucy In The Sky) – I’m out on a limb for this one, admittedly, but Portman is always a threat to win an Oscar in this category. Lucy In The Sky is an Oscar season X factor, but remember, even as Jackie struggled in the major categories a few years ago, she was arguably the runner up for a second Academy Award. Bet against her at your own risk!

4. Alfre Woodard (Clemency) – Back at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Actress buzz built for Woodard in Clemency. Now, the film itself is the smallest of the lot here and has the least potential for citation elsewhere, but that shouldn’t stop her from contending. As you can see, the category is a bit top heavy, so there’s no reason why Woodard won’t be in play in a big bad way here.

5. Renée Zelwegger (Judy) – Another biopic in the running, Zelwegger portraying Judy Garland in Judy seems like something Oscar will love, even if critics won’t. Judy could sink or swim, with Zelwegger being either dragged down or propped up, so it’s one to keep an eye out for. With the Actress category a bit thin, this comeback project could end up sneaking in when in other years, it would come up short.

6. Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) – Depending on how Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the classic novel turns out, this could be Ronan’s year. Little Women may not initially seem like the material to get her an Oscar in Actress, but stranger things have happened. Ronan is getting the label of overdue, so that could spur on voters for whatever seems close enough. We’ve seen it before, haven’t we?

7. Awkwafina (The Farewell) – The other big Sundance hit on this top tier of the list is The Farewell, where Awkwafina has been turning heads. Assuming the precursor season remembers this one, she could be the new face in the crowd among these contenders. Right now, she’s got the buzz and the momentum, that’s for sure.

8. Meryl Streep (The Laundromat) *Could Go Supporting – When in doubt, put Streep in your top ten. Especially since this Steven Soderbergh work is a satire, as opposed to a straight drama, seeing Streep do something on the funnier side could be catnip to voters. If The Laundromat proves a player, she’ll be right up into the top five in no time. It all depends on if she goes Lead or Supporting, so stay tuned…

9. Lupita Nyong’o (Us) – If the Academy opts to go for Jordan Peele’s genre genius a second time, watch out for Nyong’o to get another nomination. Us is likely going to be a little too out there for Oscar, but the precursors could certainly keep her in the running, that’s for sure…

10. Nicole Kidman (Bombshell) *Could Go Supporting – This final position was pretty open, as Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein for Booksmart made a play, as did Felicity Jones for The Aeronauts, Lesley Manville for Ordinary Love, Mary Kay Place for Diane, and Kristin Stewart for Seberg. For now though, the spot goes to Kidman, presuming she’s actually Lead for Bombshell. Sit tight for more there!

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

11. Kristen Stewart (Seberg)
12. Felicity Jones (The Aeronauts)
13. Mary Kay Place (Diane)
14. Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart)
15. Lesley Manville (Ordinary Love)
16. Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart)
16. Blake Lively (The Rhythm Section)
17. Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim)
18. Jillian Bell (Brittany Runs a Marathon)
19. Helen Mirren (The Good Liar)
20. Julianne Moore (Gloria Bell)

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

21. Charlize Theron (Long Shot)
22. Florence Pugh (Midsommar)
23. Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)
24. Honor Swinton Byrne (The Souvenir)
25. Elle Fanning (Teen Spirit)
26. Keira Knightley (Official Secrets)
27. Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)
28. Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose)
29. Zoey Deutch (Buffaloed)
30. Brie Larson (Captain Marvel)

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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