Obviously the big news for this month’s predictions was the announcement yesterday from Apple that Lily Gladstone will officially be campaigned as Best Actress for Killers of the Flower Moon.
After much debating and grousing online that she should have ‘stayed’ in supporting and likening the decision to Michelle Williams’ last year for The Fabelmans, what the discourse ultimately revealed was far less about Apple or Gladstone’s choice for her and its historic context, but pundits and wannabe pundits somehow feeling slighted that their early predictions were wrong and what they wanted for her (“an easy win in supporting!”) was in any way important. From May to July, I had Gladstone is both lead and supporting (with a #1 berth in July) as we didn’t have confirmation and in last month’s predictions made a choice, foolishly, to take her out of lead and only have her in supporting, going against my gut and took a chance that didn’t pan out. Lesson learned, stick with your instincts!
Back to Gladstone and her performance, a nomination here would indeed be historic and her placement in lead is correct. The film’s beating heart from the beginning to end of its 3h 26m run, her performance is often quiet and reserved but make no mistake, that’s the source of its impact and power. She’d only be the fourth Indigenous woman nominated in Best Actress after Merle Oberon (1935’s The Dark Angel), Keisha Castle-Hughes (2003’s Whale Rider) and Yalitza Aparicio (2018’s Roma) and the first Native American actress ever. It’s impossible to underestimate or devalue the weight that possibility, especially in light of having just passed the 50th anniversary of the 45th Academy Awards, where Sacheen Littlefeather famously spoke on behalf of Best Actor winner Marlon Brando (The Godfather), who boycotted the Oscars that year as a protest against Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans. Littlefeather passed away in 2022. While rumors and allegations of Littlefeather’s ancestry persist, the historical precedent of a nomination for Gladstone remains.
The Venice Film Festival gave a big boost to Priscilla‘s Cailee Spaeny, who won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress, an award with a rich history recently that includes Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Cate Blanchett (TÁR) all translating their awards to Oscar nominations, and in the case of Colman, a win. But even with that the actress performance story of Venice, and subsequently Telluride just days later, was Emma Stone in Poor Things. Deservedly so, it’s a masterful one, pushing the boundaries of anything she’s done before, in a film that’s received an equally rapturous response. Annette Bening’s turn as swimmer Diana Nyad in NYAD was met with high praise at its Telluride bow but then dead silence at Toronto. It’s fascinating to think of Nyad completing her Cuba-to-Florida journey on her 5th attempt at 64 as Bening goes for a win on her possible 5th Oscar nomination at age 65.
But that’s just the beginning as Best Actress this year is a stunningly stacked group (you love to see it) that also includes Carey Mulligan in Maestro (another Venice debut), Sandra Hüller in Anatomy of a Fall (Cannes Palme winner and playing nearly every festival but shockingly was not submitted by France as their International Feature Film submission), Margot Robbie in Barbie (the biggest box office hit of the year), Greta Lee in Past Lives (the little indie that could that’s going to get a boost from the qualifying agreement that allows its cast to campaign during the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike), Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor in Origin (Venice debut) and the only unseen film and performance from our likely lineup yet: Fantasia Barrino in the movie adaptation of the Tony-winning musical version of The Color Purple. That puts all eyes on her come this winter when the film debuts at Christmas.
Here are my 2024 Oscar predictions in Best Actress for September 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) (▼)
- Fantasia Barrino – The Color Purple (Warner Bros) (-)
- Margot Robbie – Barbie (Warner Bros) (▼)
- Carey Mulligan – Maestro (Netflix) (▼)
- Cailee Spaeny – Priscilla (A24) (-)
- Greta Lee – Past Lives (A24) (▼)
- Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor – Origin (NEON) (▲)
Next up: Phoebe Dynevor – Fair Play (Netflix), Vanessa Kirby – Napoleon (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures) (▼), Jane Levy – A Little Prayer (Sony Pictures Classics), Helen Mirren – Golda (Bleecker Street), Natalie Portman – May December (Netflix) (▼), Saoirse Ronan – Foe (Amazon Studios), Teyana Taylor – A Thousand and One (Focus Features)
Other contenders and/or possible 2024 releases:
- Jessie Buckley – Fingernails (Apple Original Films)
- Jessica Chastain – Memory (MUBI)
- Merve Dizdar – About Dry Grasses (Janus Films/Sideshow)
- Jessica Lange – Long Day’s Journey Into Night (MGM) (▼)
- Trace Lysette – Monica (IFC Films) (▼)
- Thomasin McKenzie – Eileen (NEON)
- Layla Mohammadi – The Persian Version (Sony Pictures Classics)
Without U.S. distribution: Olivia Colman – Wicked Little Letters (TBD), Jodie Comer – The End We Start From (TBD), Kate Winslet – Lee (TBD)