2024 Oscar Predictions: BEST ACTRESS (May)
It’s only May but between Sundance and the currently underway Cannes Film Festival, Best Actress is already a buffet this season with two major pick-ups that just changed the race.
Sundance 2023 brought us no less than four certified contenders that run the gamut of style and tradition. Teyana Taylor brought it in A Thousand and One, receiving raves for her performance in A.V. Rockwell’s feature directorial debut. The film won the Grand Jury Prize and was released by Focus Features in late March/early April, usually a bit of a dumping ground for indies that studios don’t plan on taking to multiple festivals and indeed, the film did struggle to find a theatrical audience, grossing $1.7M on its opening weekend (only $1,939 per screen) and tapping out at $3.4M by the first week of May. It’s not the be-all-end-all, a healthy showing on NBC/Universal’s Peacock streaming channel (Focus is a sub of NBC/Uni) could keep it on the periphery.
Jane Levy (NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist) showed great range in Angus MacLane’s A Little Prayer from Sony Pictures Classics. The story of a seemingly meek woman who finds out from her father-in-law (David Strathairn) that her husband is cheating was very simple and streamlined in its presentation but Levy, and Strathairn, earned praise for their reserved performances. SPC has traditionally been very good with their Best Actress contenders and I think we can expect to see the film later this fall at festivals before its release.
A24 brought Celine Song’s feature directorial debut Past Lives to the mountain town festival and with it Greta Lee, with a stunning performance in a film that has held the grasp of critics and festival goers at Sundance, Berlin, SFFILM and more. The Oscar-winning studio is taking a risk by releasing the film in early June but then, they just won Best Picture with a March release so risk is the name of the game.
Netflix hit the ground running at Sundance with its massive purchase of Chloe Domont’s Fair Play, to the tune of $20M. Hot off the heels of her success with the streamer’s hit series Bridgerton, Phoebe Dynevor plays a financial broker in a secret relationship with her co-worker (Alden Ehrenreich) as they both vie for a single promotion within their firm.
But just announced today was the Netflix pickup (for $11M) of Todd Haynes’ Cannes in competition film May December starring previous Best Actress winners Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Julianne Moore (Still Alice). Portman is the lead push here, earning raves and likely the film will find berths across the fall fests. Especially if John Ridley’s Shirley, with Regina King playing America’s first Black female Congressperson and U.S. Presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, continues to be mired in an unclear future. Thought as a potential 2022 release, the film has undergone the personal tragedy of the death of King’s son as well as several reshoots and was one of a handful of film’s left off Netflix’s upcoming 2023 slate. But, it’s still early and we don’t know what we don’t know. We do know that Nyad, starring four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening as world champion and record-holding long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad is definitely on the docket for this season. Plus, they also have Carey Mulligan in Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, playing the traditional long suffering but supporting wife role opposite his creative gay genius.
A24 and NEON might find themselves in a tug-of-war with Sandra Hüller this season as the former will distribute Jonathan Glazer’s bracing new film The Zone of Interest (a Cannes frontrunner for the Palme) and the latter with the newly picked up Anatomy of a Fall, where the German actress is a major Best Actress candidate at the festival. Based on reviews, her chances definitely seem to lean to the latter and the Toni Erdmann actress could be a major force to be reckoned with.
There’s probably an outside chance that Lily Gladstone could be pushed lead by Apple for Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon (and indeed, she is referred to in many Cannes reviews of the film in the same ‘co-lead’ breath as Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro). I’m including her on the Best Actress list but Supporting Actress feels like where she’ll land. Then again, that’s what we thought about Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans.
Here are my 2024 Oscar predictions in Best Actress for May 2023.
- Fantasia Barrino – The Color Purple (Warner Bros)
- Annette Bening – Nyad (Netflix)
- Sandra Hüller – Anatomy of a Fall (NEON)
- Greta Lee – Past Lives (A24)
- Natalie Portman – May December (Netflix)
- Carey Mulligan – Maestro (Netflix)
- Kate Winslet – Lee (TBD)
- Phoebe Dynevor – Fair Play (Netflix)
- Jane Levy – A Little Prayer (Sony Pictures Classics)
- Lily Gladstone – Killers of the Flower Moon (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures) – lead or supporting?
Other top contenders: Jodie Comer – The Bikeriders (20th Century Studios), Ryan Destiny – Flint Strong (MGM), Kirsten Dunst – Civil War (A24), Sandra Hüller – The Zone of Interest (A24), Nicole Kidman – Holland, Michigan (Amazon Studios), Regina King – Shirley (Netflix), Vanessa Kirby – Napoleon (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures) – lead or supporting?, Jessica Lange – Long Day’s Journey Into Night (MGM), Trace Lysette – Monica (IFC Films), Helen Mirren – Golda (Bleecker Street), Margot Robbie – Barbie (Warner Bros), Emma Stone – Poor Things (Searchlight Pictures), Teyana Taylor – A Thousand and One (Focus Features), Alicia Vikander – Firebrand (Amazon Studios/MGM/UAR), Zendaya – Challengers (MGM)
Other contenders and/or possible 2024 releases:
- Marisa Abela – Back to Black (Focus Features)
- Uzo Aduba – The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat (Searchlight Pictures) – lead or supporting?
- Emily Blunt – Pain Hustlers (Netflix)
- Jessie Buckley – Fingernails (Apple Original Films)
- Jessica Chastain – Mothers Instinct (NEON)
- Aunjanue Ellis – The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat (Searchlight Pictures) – lead or supporting?
- Molly Gordon – Theater Camp (Searchlight Pictures)
- Anne Hathaway – Mothers Instinct (NEON)
- Salma Hayek – Without Blood (Freemantle)
- Sanaa Lathan – The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat (Searchlight Pictures) – lead or supporting?
- Thomasin McKenzie – Eileen (NEON)
- Layla Mohammadi – The Persian Version (Sony Pictures Classics)
- Katy M. O’Brian – Love Lies Bleeding (A24)
- Margaret Qualley – Drive-Away Dolls (Focus Features)
- Saoirse Ronan – Blitz (Apple Original Films)
- Saoirse Ronan – Foe (Amazon Studios)
- Cailee Speny – Priscilla (A24)
- Mia Wasikowska – Club Zero (TBD)
Without U.S. distribution: Paula Beer – Stella. A Life (TBD), Juliette Binoche – Pot au Feu (TBD), Cate Blanchett – The New Boy (TBD), Jessica Chastain – Memory (TBD), Patricia Clarkson – Lilly (TBD), Olivia Colman – Wicked Little Letters (TBD), Jodie Comer – The End We Start From (TBD), Catherine Deneuve – Bernadette (TBD), Judy Greer – Eric Larue (TBD), Emilia Jones – Winner (TBD), Rooney Mara – La Cocina (TBD), Barbara Mori – Lost in the Night (TBD), Camila Morrone – Gonzo Girl (TBD), Kangana Ranaut – Emergency (TBD), Saoirse Ronan – The Outrun (TBD), Talia Ryder – Joika (TBD)