Wed. Sep 30th, 2020

2019 Oscar Predictions: BEST ACTRESS (February)

I know some people want this to be a closer race than it is; that Olivia Colman’s BAFTA win is somehow a bigger factor than it is. I don’t see it that way and haven’t for months. This is Glenn Close’s Oscar and there’s very little anyone can do to stop it from happening.

While a win at BAFTA would have given Close all four precursors (she has three, including the most important one – SAG), Colman’s win there makes sense. Not simply because she’s British and playing royalty (although it didn’t hurt) but The Favourite was the nomination leader there and is at the Academy Awards (with Roma). But timing is often everything with the Oscars and rarely, for an actress, has the overdue narrative been as strong as it is for Close. Julianne Moore rode the wave in 2014/2015 with Still Alice, very similarly as Close has (both from Sony Classics), but in a much weaker year. That Close has triumphed at Critics’ Choice (in a tie), the Golden Globes (that speech!) and the Screen Actors Guild against such formidable competition speaks to the strength of her performance, to Sony Classics doing exactly right by her and that voters want her to win. That last part is key. People want to see this happen and the overdue narrative plays much better for American actors than it does non-US ones. Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Geraldine Page, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore – all found Oscars after multiple nominations on extremely overdue narratives, even if they’re not all regarded as their best performances (or even the best that year, in some cases). You can’t say the same about British/UK multi-nominees like Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Albert Finney and Deborah Kerr.

So let’s look at Close’s SAG win and Colman’s BAFTA win in context. The last time a BAFTA winner beat the SAG winner and eventual Oscar winner was when Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) triumphed over Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) in the 2012/2013 season. Amour was still an Oscar winner (Foreign Language Film) and surprised with its Best Picture and Best Director nominations. But the BAFTA was simply not enough to overcome the strength of Lawrence’s SAG (not to mention her film’s strength, her rising star and how much the Academy loves under 30 Best Actress winners). At least not anymore. Pre-SAG and in the pre-1990s, BAFTA broke for British actresses over and over again, often over the Oscar winner. It’s worth noting though that BAFTA used to take place after the Oscars and only switched to before them, and therefore becoming a precursor, in 2001.

Some are looking at 2007 when Julie Christie (Away From Her) won SAG over eventual Oscar winner Marion Cotillard (La vie en rose). Cotillard landed BAFTA and for many that was a clincher. Christie was a previous Best Actress winner, far before the SAG era and SAG really loves being able to reward actors that have had most of their success before they started handing out awards (hello, Gloria Stuart). The last six SAG winners have gone on to win the Best Actress Oscar. There are only six times in SAG’s 25-year history where the SAG winner didn’t win the Oscar. The most glaring is probably Viola Davis in The Help. She won SAG but then lost the Oscar, and the chance to be only the second black Best Actress winner ever, to Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. Streep had not won an Oscar in 29 years and that was the narrative pushed to get her that win. Bizarre, but it worked.

That doesn’t leave much for the remaining three nominees, unfortunately. The conversation completely revolves around Close and Colman. Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) tied with Close for the Critics’ Choice win (dubious) but has otherwise lost to each of them all along the way. Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) has hit all four precursors yet weirdly missed out on a Spirit Award nomination (Close did not). Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) came in with only a Critics’ Choice nomination and even though the Academy has definitely embraced debut performances before (Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God) it’s hard to see a path for her to win, even in the nomination-leading film.

Here are my ranked 2019 Oscar Predictions in Best Actress for February 13, 2019.

1. Glenn Close – THE WIFE (BFCA, GG, SAG)
2. Olivia Colman – THE FAVOURITE (BAFTA, GG)
3. Lady Gaga – A STAR IS BORN (BFCA)
4. Yalitza Aparicio – ROMA
5. Melissa McCarthy – CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?
BAFTA – British Film Academy Awards
BFCA – Broadcast Film Critics Association (Critics Choice)
GG – Golden Globe
SAG – Screen Actors Guild
Spirit – Independent Spirit Awards
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