Best Actress is a bloodbath, the most competitive I’ve seen this category in years. That’s a good thing but it makes predicting extra hard.
This category has everything: a veteran with an overdue narrative, a singer trying to usurp that elusive prize, a British monarch aiming to snatch the crown, a first-time actress revelation and a magical nanny who could swoop in on everyone.
My top 3 isn’t budging. It’s not going to. Probably ever. That is the true Best Actress race: Glenn Close (The Wife), Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) and Olivia Colman (The Favourite). Everyone else is scrambling for those last two spots.
Yalitza Aparicio came to ROMA with zero acting experience when she accompanied her sister to the audition for the role. It’s a classically Hollywood discovery story but in the heart of Mexico. She is as perfect a newcomer discovery nomination as it gets for the Academy.
Viola Davis is an Oscar winner and a three-time nominee – the most for any black actress in Academy Awards history. Widows is struggling at the box office (but might end up with some legs) and this is going to be a test of Davis’s place and strength with Oscar. Can she be like Meryl Streep or Denzel Washington and simply get in on name alone?
Melissa McCarthy is probably the best she’s ever been in Can You Ever Forgive Me? The previous Oscar nominee missed out on a Spirit Award nomination while her co-star, Richard E. Grant, got in. She needed that early start to help push her ahead of the crowd.
Same goes Nicole Kidman in Destroyer. Eligible for the Spirit Awards but missed out (which might have been more of a visibility issue than anything). She’s a previous Best Actress winner in the golden age of her career and with a shot in Supporting Actress as well. Her film has flooded the fall festivals and she’s in Q&As, talks, magazine covers and virtually everywhere. No one can say that she, and Annapurna Pictures, aren’t doing their due diligence with this film and performance.
Previous Best Actress nominees Felicity Jones (On the Basis of Sex) and Saoirse Ronan (Mary Queen of Scots) finally had their films world premiere, both at AFI FEST earlier this month, and largely to good reviews. Playing real-life female heroes – Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Mary Stuart, respectively – gives them a bit of an edge as the Oscars love a good biopic portrayal. Even though Ronan earned better notices, the timeliness of an RBG film keeps Jones ahead.
But it’s Emily Blunt, in Mary Poppins Returns, that comes flying into the top 10 as a real threat. The screening of the film last week had critics soaring (I’m seeing it on Sunday) and the raves for Blunt could earn her her first Oscar nomination. She has a big umbrella to fill though as Julie Andrews, in her feature film debut, won Best Actress for Mary Poppins 54 years ago.
Here are my 2019 Oscar Predictions in Best Actress for November 23, 2018.
Green – moves up; Red – moves down; Blue – chart debut/re-entry
1. Glenn Close – The Wife (Sony Classics)
2. Lady Gaga – A Star Is Born (Warner Bros)
3. Olivia Colman – The Favourite (Fox Searchlight)
4. Yalitza Aparicio – ROMA (Netflix)
5. Viola Davis – Widows (20th Century Fox)
6. Melissa McCarthy – Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Fox Searchlight)
7. Nicole Kidman – Destroyer (Annapurna)
8. Felicity Jones – On the Basis of Sex (Focus Features)
9. Saoirse Ronan – Mary Queen of Scots (Focus Features)
10. Emily Blunt – Mary Poppins Returns (Disney)
Toni Collette – Hereditary (A24)
Joanna Kulig – Cold War (Amazon)
KiKi Layne – If Beale Street Could Talk (Annapurna)
Carey Mulligan – Wildlife (IFC Films)
Julia Roberts – Ben is Back (Roadside Attractions)
Keira Knightley – Colette (Bleecker Street)
Rosamund Pike – A Private War (Aviron Pictures)