We have a new Best Actress frontrunner. Renée Zellweger leapfrogs from the #5 spot all the way to #1 this month, portraying one of the silver screen’s most iconic legends, Judy Garland and earning career-best reviews for Roadside Attractions’ Judy in the process.
Judy debuted at Telluride with Zellweger in tow, and a very new Zellweger. After taking some time off she’s come back refreshed, revived and more self-confident and personable than I’ve ever seen her. It’s a career comeback that the media and Hollywood loves. She’s ready for this race. She’s ready for Best Actress.
Since I started this season’s Oscar predictions back in April, I’ve had Cynthia Erivo (Focus Features’ Harriet) in the top spot and there was nothing anyone could do get me to move her. One of the most iconic and important figures in US history finally getting the biopic treatment, with a good director and a proven studio. What could go wrong? Well, the reviews, that’s what went wrong. While Erivo came out with mostly good notices, it was hard to weed through the mire of complaints about the pedestrian and ‘TV movie’ nature of the film. Meryl Streep can overcome that and go on to win Best Actress, but can Erivo? It seems unlikely but we still live in an Oscar world where only one black actress has won here in 91 years. I know that will be enough for some to propel her, and it may indeed by enough when combined with her notices, but right now her star falls. It’s not a catastrophic drop, she’s still at #2. Don’t fear yet, EGOT watchers, Erivo (who has the Emmy, Grammy and Tony) is also a contender in Original Song so she’s covering her bases.
Zellweger’s bump drops everyone a spot but the top 5 remains the same: Scarlett Johansson (Netflix’s Marriage Story), Awkwafina (A24’s The Farewell) and Saoirse Ronan (Sony’s Little Women) all hold on.
Alfre Woodard (Neon’s Clemency) moves up as she continues to receive festival tributes and accolades this fall, which will be important as her film is such a late release (December 27). I’d watch out for Oscar winner Charlize Theron to make a splash in Lionsgate’s Bombshell, which I’ve heard some pretty great things about – especially Theron, who really digs into Megyn Kelly and gets under her skin. She can easily disrupt this Best Actress top 5, especially if we see the December release pop up at AFI.
Kristen Stewart moves down with Seberg this month. Despite playing multiple festivals, including Venice and Toronto, Amazon still has no release date for the film and at this stage, that’s not a good sign. Her reviews have been good, better than the film’s, but Amazon needs to make a decision soon – drop it this fall/winter or hold it until next year.
Constance Wu (STX’s Hustlers) is the month’s sole debut. As the actual lead of her film, she holds her own even as her flashier co-star Jennifer Lopez pulls focus.
Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Best Actress for September 19, 2019.
Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry
1. Renée Zellweger – Judy (Roadside Attractions)
2. Cynthia Erivo – Harriet (Focus Features)
3. Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story (Netflix)
4. Awkwafina – The Farewell (A24)
5. Saoirse Ronan – Little Women (Sony)
NEXT UP (alphabetical by actor)
Felicity Jones – The Aeronauts (Amazon)
Lupita Nyong’o – Us (Universal)
Natalie Portman – Lucy in the Sky (Fox Searchlight)
Charlize Theron – Bombshell (Lionsgate)
Alfre Woodard – Clemency (Neon)
WATCH OUT FOR (alphabetical by actor)
Jessie Buckley – Wild Rose (Neon)
Julianne Moore – Gloria Bell (A24)
Kristen Stewart – Seberg (Amazon)
Jodie Turner-Smith – Queen & Slim (Universal)
Constance Wu – Hustlers (STX)
OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical by actor)
Helen Mirren – The Good Liar (Warner Bros)
LEAD OR SUPPORTING?
Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie – Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
Meryl Streep – The Laundromat (Netflix)