Biopics and previous Best Actress Oscar winners runneth over this season and where that is often a leg up, it could be a bit of a disadvantage here.
Last season’s champ Frances McDormand (this year with The Tragedy of Macbeth), Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers), Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter), Cate Blanchett (Nightmare Alley) and Halle Berry (Bruised) are going to be looking for another nomination or win here and they’re all top contenders that can do it. Further down there’s also Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos and Sandra Bullock in The Unforgivable. That’s a powerhouse lineup of A-listers all fighting with each other and any newcomers looking to upset.
Fascinatingly enough, none of those previous winners in playing in the biopic arena where we find previous Best Actress nominees Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) and Lady Gaga (House of Gucci) and Jennifer Hudson (Respect), a Best Supporting Actress winner for 2008’s Dreamgirls, attempting to lock down a slot.
Studio priorities will definitely come into play as we get closer and closer to the real kickoff of awards season with MGM/UA trying to manage two contenders in Hudson and Gaga. Hudson’s film was released in August but is getting a bit a new life right now. For Gaga, the anticipation of House of Gucci is through the roof (new trailer here) and I expect a full court press for her in November. But is it good or just campy fun and will it be enough to get both in? Netflix has Colman and Tessa Thompson (Passing) and while the former is an easy push, the latter has been a bit in the background compared to her supporting contender co-star Ruth Negga, who is a major threat to win her category and showing up everywhere the film plays.
One thing that’s clear however is the dearth of opportunities for women of color this season. Unlike last year, which saw two Black Best Actress nominees for the first time in nearly 50 years, we have Thompson alongside Hudson and Berry as the season’s best and most realistic chances, and those are tenuous at best. Taylour Paige in Zola deserves more than she’ll get this season, the same way that Nicole Beharie in Miss Juneteenth did last year.
With confirmation that Belfast‘s Caitríona Balfe will be run in supporting, the door opens up for one of several contenders vying for a spot here, including Cannes Best Actress winner Renate Reinsve in Norway’s Oscar submission The Worst Person in the World.
This all could be moot as Kristen Stewart (Spencer) remains the overwhelming frontrunner for her universally lauded performance as the late Princess Diana. Everyone else is just a duchess.
Here are my ranked 2022 Best Actress Oscar predictions for October 2021.
Green – moves up ↑ Red – moves down ↓ Blue – new/re-entry ♦ Black – no movement ↔
1. Kristen Stewart – Spencer (NEON) ↔
2. Frances McDormand – The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24/Apple) ↔
3. Penélope Cruz – Parallel Mothers (Sony Pictures Classics) ↔
4. Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter (Netflix) ↑
5. Lady Gaga – House of Gucci (MGM/UA) ↑
6. Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Searchlight Pictures) ↑
7. Cate Blanchett – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) ↓
8. Jennifer Hudson – Respect (MGM/UA) ↑
9. Halle Berry – Bruised (Netflix) ↔
10. Renate Reinsve – The Worst Person in the World (NEON) ↑
Other contenders: Sandra Bullock – The Unforgivable (Netflix), Jodie Comer – The Last Duel (20th Century Studios), Alana Haim – Licorice Pizza (MGM/UA), Emilia Jones – CODA (Apple), Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos (Amazon), Jennifer Lawrence – Don’t Look Up (Netflix), Tessa Thompson – Passing (Netflix), Rachel Zegler – West Side Story (20th Century Studios)