The Best Actress race this season has barely cracked summer and we’ve got what looks like a thrilling year of ‘good on paper’ performances.
First, let’s see what, if anything, the announcement of the Cannes Film Festival lineup did to change this race. The answer is…not much. Of the possibilities, which include Vicky Krieps troubled filmmaker in Mia Hansen-Løve’s Bergman Island, Virginia Efira’s horny lesbian nun in Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta, Katheryn Winnick dealing with her con artist dad in Sean Penn’s Flag Day or previous Oscar winner Tilda Swinton in the new film from previous Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Memoria), I’m not sure how many of these may stick in a race full of biopics, big names and big studios. Marion Cotillard in the Cannes opener Annette is probably the best bet but her category status feels very open. I think we’ll once again look to Venice to shine a light on contenders aiming to make an impact.
While Penélope Cruz already has a Supporting Actress Oscar for Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), a lead win has eluded her so far. That could all change this year. La Reina de España has two high profile films set for this season, Official Competition with Antonio Banderas and Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers (Madres Paralelas), both from Sony Pictures Classics. As we know, SPC is very good at this, especially in Best Actress races. But there is a lot of potential internal competition here, not the least of which is Cruz with herself. But there’s also Odessa Young in Mothering Sunday, Helen Mirren in The Duke and Melissa Barrera in the new Carmen musical, and that’s before we even hit the summer and fall festivals where potential pickups could happen. Still, for now I’m going to be in Cruz control.
The lead or supporting conundrum from last month is obviously still a factor in June with several contenders in a state of category limbo. The big difference between last month and this month is that I feel comfortable dropping Cate Blanchett for Nightmare Alley as her shooting time on the film was reportedly brief. Does that mean Rooney Mara moves in her place? While it would be ironic and kind of fun, considering the category placement/fraud the two were set up with for 2015’s Carol, I think we might not have a true female lead for that film. But, much remains to be seen. Most, in fact.
It’s almost distracting how many biopics we’re getting once again this year. I know it’s a favorite for all actors and often it leads to gold but there are more flops in the wreckage of Oscar campaigns than there are winners. That said, I think the majority of the lineup of what we have coming is kind of exciting. Jennifer Hudson playing Aretha Franklin, Ana de Armas playing Marilyn Monroe (Blonde), Kristen Stewart playing Princess Diana (Spencer), Nicole Kidman playing Lucille Ball (Being the Ricardos), Lady Gaga playing Patrizia Reggiani (House of Gucci), Jessica Chastain playing Tammy Faye Bakker (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)…the list goes on. Every one of these will play a tightrope game of balancing festival appearances, studio clout, go for broke performances and publicists that can create a rock solid narrative to earn a spot in the top 5. One thing I think we’ve learned is that voters love physically transformative performances in biopics of problematic people that are softened for their film presentation (Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, Charlize Theron in Bombshell and Margot Robbie in I, Tonya just to name a few) and there’s more than a few on that list that could qualify.
Ultimately, we know how much things can change over the course of a season (especially a long one like the one that just ended what feels like yesterday). Think about this; at this time last year, Amy Adams and Kate Winslet were ‘locked in’ to contenders. Hell, even the threat of Meryl Streep loomed for months.
Here are my ranked 2022 Best Actress Oscar predictions for June.
Green – moves up ↑ Red – moves down ↓ Blue – new/re-entry Black – no movement ↔
1. Penélope Cruz – Parallel Mothers (Madres Paralelas) (Sony Pictures Classics)
2. Jennifer Hudson – Respect (MGM/UA) ↑
3. Lady Gaga – House of Gucci (MGM/UA) ↓
4. Frances McDormand – The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24) ↑
5. Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Searchlight Pictures) ↑
6. Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog (Netflix) ↔
7. Margot Robbie – Untitled David O. Russell aka Canterbury Glass (20th Century Studios) ↔
8. Ana de Armas – Blonde (Netflix) ↑
9. Rachel Zegler – West Side Story (20th Century Studios) ↓
10. Kristen Stewart – Spencer (Neon) ↑
Other contenders: Caitriona Balfe – Belfast (Focus Features), Melissa Barrera – Carmen (Sony Pictures Classics), Halle Berry – Bruised (Netflix), Marion Cotillard – Annette (Amazon Studios), Penélope Cruz – Official Competition (Sony Pictures Classics), Beanie Feldstein – The Humans (A24), Emilia Jones – CODA (Apple), Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos (Amazon), Jennifer Lawrence – Don’t Look Up (Netflix), Thomasin McKenzie – Last Night in Soho (Focus Features), Martha Plimpton – Mass (Bleecker Street), Tilda Swinton – Memoria (Neon), Tessa Thompson – Passing (Netflix), Odessa Young – Mothering Sunday (Sony Pictures Classics)
Lead or supporting conundrum: Caitriona Balfe – Belfast (Focus Features), Cate Blanchett – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures), Jodie Comer – The Last Duel (20th Century Studios), Marion Cotillard – Annette (Amazon Studios), Frances McDormand – The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24), Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog (Netflix), Rooney Mara – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures)
Will it be out this year? Yalitza Aparicio – Presencias (TBD), Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter (TBA) Tilda Swinton – Three Thousand Years of Longing (MGM/UA), Maggie Smith – A German Life (TBD), Tang Wei – Decision to Leave (TBD)