The fall festivals are good bellwethers for Best Actress with Venice and Telluride ripe with contenders that have proven track records in recent years. Since 2016, Venice premieres have produced an impressive 15 Best Actress nominees, with four of them going on to win the Oscar: Emma Stone for La La Land, Frances McDormand for Three Billboards and Nomadland, and Olivia Colman for The Favourite with Stone and Colman first winning Venice’s Volpi Cup for Best Actress. Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Cate Blanchett (TÁR) were the last three Volpi Cup winners and translated them to Oscar nominations. This year, Priscilla‘s Cailee Spaeny won for her turn as Priscilla Presley and history favors her quite a bit; the last English-language winner here to miss an Oscar nomination was Rose Byrne for 2000’s The Goddess of 1967.
But you know who also has a good recent track record here? Netflix. Landing their first Best Actress nomination with Yalitza Aparicio for 2018’s Roma, they’ve gotten at least one nomination here for the last five years including two in a single year: the aforementioned Kirby plus Scarlett Johansson in 2019’s Marriage Story. They have two major contenders once again but can both make it in? The streaming studio was pickier this year with the festival distribution for its films with Carey Mulligan in Maestro only showing up at Venice (as a premiere) before heading to NYFF and Annette Bening in NYAD premiering at Telluride and then Toronto. Bening might have a bit of a tougher climb, historically, as the last Best Actress nominee to premiere at Telluride without a Cannes or Venice bow first was Renée Zellweger in 2019’s Judy. But she ended up winning, so not a bad choice to start there, right? Plus, several other actresses have followed this path to a nomination during that decade, including Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs, Reese Witherspoon in Wild and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?
I have a hard time seeing Bening missing; not only as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for The Entertainment Community Fund (during a history-making SAG strike) but as the non-winning veteran contender of the season. There’s a potential for an interesting parallel between Bening and swimmer Diana Nyad, whom she plays; Nyad finally completed her treacherous journey of swimming from Cuba to Florida after 30+ years on her 5th attempt at the age of 64 and Bening will be 65 on her 5th attempt, 30+ years after her first nomination. Narrative and veteran status doesn’t always pan out in the end, just ask Glenn Close or Deborah Kerr. But then, there’s always a Geraldine Page to push the theory all the way to the stage.
The Screen Actors Guild will reveal their nominations on January 10, 2024 and the 30th SAG Awards will be held on February 24. Oscar nominations will be announced on January 23 and the 96th Academy Awards will be held on March 10.
Here are my 2024 Oscar predictions in Best Actress for October 2023.
- Lily Gladstone – Killers of the Flower Moon (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures) (-)
- Emma Stone – Poor Things (Searchlight Pictures) (-)
- Annette Bening – NYAD (Netflix) (-)
- Sandra Hüller – Anatomy of a Fall (NEON) (-)
- Carey Mulligan – Maestro (Netflix) (▲)
- Margot Robbie – Barbie (Warner Bros) (-)
- Fantasia Barrino – The Color Purple (Warner Bros) (▼)
- Cailee Spaeny – Priscilla (A24) (-)
- Greta Lee – Past Lives (A24) (-)
- Natalie Portman – May December (Netflix) (▲)
Next up: Phoebe Dynevor – Fair Play (Netflix), Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor – Origin (NEON) (▼), Jane Levy – A Little Prayer (Sony Pictures Classics), Helen Mirren – Golda (Bleecker Street)
Jessie Buckley – Fingernails (Apple Original Films)
Jessica Chastain – Memory (TBD)
Merve Dizdar – About Dry Grasses (Janus Films/Sideshow)
Trace Lysette – Monica (IFC Films)
Thomasin McKenzie – Eileen (NEON)
Layla Mohammadi – The Persian Version (Sony Pictures Classics)
Saoirse Ronan – Foe (Amazon Studios)
Teyana Taylor – A Thousand and One (Focus Features)
Photo: Jason McDonald/Netflix