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Emma Stone (La La Land) has broken from last month’s tie at #1 to own the top spot all to herself, and by a considerable margin to boot. Her film just won Best Picture from the New York Film Critics Circle and keeps moving forward down Oscar season’s long walk to the final red carpet. Her main competitor, Natalie Portman in Jackie, is turning out to not be as strong a fighter here as we thought. While Portman picked up Washington D.C.’s critics prize (but then, not a real surprise) but that’s it. Jackie earned a healthy number of Independent Spirit Award nominations but then was snubbed by the National Board of Review entirely.
The true Cinderella story this Best Actress season has been Isabelle Huppert in Elle (and Things to Come, for that matter). The most unlikely of roles has turned into the main critics push in this category. Huppert has won the Gotham (besting Portman), plus the New York and Los Angeles critics honors. While there is still some worry that the subject of rape, and how it’s presented and is part of her film, will be too difficult for some Academy members, this could be one of those simply undeniable performances. As it should be; the never-nominated French cinema legend gives everything in this film and voters will likely recognize that. She makes the biggest move on the chart, from 7th last month to 3rd this month.
Another winner from last week was Amy Adams (Arrival). She surprised as the NBR pick for Best Actress and in concert with her wildly different role and performance in Nocturnal Animals, the five-time Oscar nominee should make it six next month. Adams moves up one this month.
That puts the final spot up for grabs in a big way. Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) and Ruth Negga (Loving) all seem to be jockeying for that last place at the moment. Normally, the Gold Rush Gang and AwardsWatch forums have this category locked up by now, even before the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes announce their nominees. This year is tougher, for good reason. There are more strong and worthy contenders than normal, making it tougher. No complaints there, the more this category can be overflowing with awards-worthy performances, the better. Bening is going to need some serious late-coming love from critics and all industry nominations if she wants a spot here. While prevailing wisdom is to never, ever count out Meryl Streep, her film and performance feel a bit slight and maybe, just maybe the Academy has crossed a threshold with the 19-time nominee and 3-time Oscar winner with regards to her lighter fare. Then there’s newcomer Ruth Negga. At the moment, I have her in. But that’s only because I (still) have her co-star, Joel Edgerton, in Best Actor. And, as I said in that write-up, I do believe that it’s either both or neither. That said, Negga is everywhere this season. She just landed the Vogue cover for January, the current New York Times Magazine cover, breakthrough performances lists everywhere…the list goes on. This newbie could jump right over Bening and Streep.
Looking at the Other Contenders list doesn’t give us much in form of a surprise here. Amy Adams isn’t getting in for Nocturnal Animals over Arrival and I really shouldn’t even have it listed. Taraji P. Henson could be a late-breaker with Hidden Figures but that movie needs to hit somewhere besides its handful of Ensemble critics picks. A Screen Actors Guild nomination for Henson would be a big boost. Same goes for Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane). Her role and performance are very Oscar-y and very baity but is it enough to bust into that super strong seven? What benefits both of these actresses is that they’re former Oscar nominees. There is a familiarity there and that could work in their favor. Then there’s a slight chance for Kate Beckinsale in Love and Friendship. She’s received career-best reviews and a SAG and/or Golden Globe nomination could start her on her way.
Here are the 2017 Oscar predictions for Best Actress from The Gold Rush Gang for December:
Amy Adams – Nocturnal Animals
Kate Beckinsale – Love and Friendship
Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane
Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures
Follow the updated Gold Rush Gang predictions in these Oscar categories here:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BEST FILM EDITING
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
BEST SOUND EDITING
BEST SOUND MIXING
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM (the shortlist)