One of the most contentious races this season is Best/Leading Actress, or in the parlance of the Screen Actors Guild, Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture. We have several heavy hitters, previous Oscar winners and nominees, previous SAG winners and nominees all battling for a spot from ingenues and breakout stars right on their heels. Let’s take a look.
Despite a career that has not been awards-friendly, at least in the U.S., Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in Spencer is an easy call. She’s a lock here as the Best Actress frontrunner, the critics’ awards leader and the favorite without a true close competitor.
Nicole Kidman has 9 film nominations with SAG, two in lead. Both times she got in she was nominated for the Oscar, and in the case of The Hours, she won. Amazingly, she was snubbed back in 2001 for Moulin Rouge! but went on to her first Oscar nomination anyway. With Being the Ricardos, Kidman already has Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations but while that might be enough for most, it’s not always the case for her. A few times Kidman has come in with both and still missed SAG, as with To Die For and Cold Mountain. But in general it’s a good start for her. But she’s also worked her way through both, got SAG and still missed Oscar, as with The Paperboy. With a biopic like Being the Ricardos, which was initially met with lots of raised eyebrows over her being cast as comedy icon Lucille Ball, voters love a good transformation and Kidman met her pre-release critics with a performance that’s been largely praised.
Lady Gaga is a known entity as an actress now, with both SAG and Oscar nominations for Best Actress for A Star Is Born, and her wild turn as Italian murderer and golddigger Patrizia Reggiani in House of Gucci should bring her more glory and credit. After her surprise win with the New York Film Critics Circle, Gaga has earned regional critics’ nominations and Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nods.
Best Actress Oscar winner Olivia Colman will return to the awards landscape once again with her lauded performance in The Lost Daughter, which won her the Gotham. While it’s been her only award this season so far, she also comes in with Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nods and several nominations from regional critics’ groups that show broad support.
Jessica Chastain has three critics’ wins plus Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations for her transformative portrayal of Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye and she is one of the most consistent, and persistent, campaigners this year (along with Gaga). A nomination here, which would be only her second in lead, seems assured.
This is where it gets tough. Alana Haim, who made her film debut with Licorice Pizza, has earned four critics’ prizes this season, more than any actress so far that isn’t named Kristen Stewart. That makes her a pretty formidable contender, also coming in with Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations. But have enough voters seen her compared to other contenders? Rachel Zegler (West Side Story) shocked when she won National Board of Review but it’s been quite since then for the newbie. She earned a Golden Globe nomination and Critics’ Choice nodded her for Young Actor/Actress but left her off the Best Actress list and it’s her co-star Ariana DeBose who’s taken up the awards talk for the film. Frances McDormand is a powerhouse here, with two lead wins from three nominations and a win for Fargo back in 1996. In The Tragedy of Macbeth, she teeters on the fence of lead and supporting and while SAG requires category submission (the Oscars don’t) and she’s submitted here, she’s been virtually absent everywhere this season where her co-star Denzel Washington has consistently showed up. Penélope Cruz has one lead SAG nomination, for 2007’s Volver, and it seems like a tough reach for her to get one for Parallel Mothers but if she does you can secure her Oscar nomination immediately.
Here are my Screen Actors Guild nomination predictions for Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture:
- Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye
- Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
- Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos
- Lady Gaga – House of Gucci
- Kristen Stewart – Spencer
Spoilers: Penélope Cruz – Parallel Mothers, Alana Haim – Licorice Pizza, Jennifer Hudson – Respect, Frances McDormand – The Tragedy of Macbeth, Tessa Thompson – Passing, Rachel Zegler – West Side Story