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Awards Season / Oscar Predictions Update: Who the Hell is Winning Best Actress?

Carey Mulligan stars as “Cassie” in director Emerald Fennell’s PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit : Merie Weismiller Wallace / Focus Features

Like everyone else, I’m puzzled by the Best Actress race. Just a week ago, it seemed like the race was pretty steady. Hell, all the races were. It was just a question of whether Nomadland was going to win all of its nominated categories or just most of them. Then, the Screen Actors Guild got people thinking. Personally, I don’t think SAG should have changed many predictions, but it does create a wild Best Actress scenario. We now have an eventual Actress winner who will wind up with less individual prizes than usual. Moreover, whomever wins the Academy Award will both be a surprise while also being somewhat of an obvious pick, in hindsight. Anyone who wants more Oscar drama than we usually get…here you go.

Legitimately, any of the five contenders can win. Sure, Vanessa Kirby has the hardest path, but maybe a BAFTA win leads to a late surge? Likewise, Andra Day will go in with a similarly small amount of awards, but perhaps a passion play pays off for her? More realistically, it’s between Viola Davis, Frances McDormand, and Carey Mulligan. In that case, we have a SAG winner in Davis going up against the Critics Choice winner (and overall critics awards favorite) Mulligan, with McDormand hoping to spoil with either just some critics prizes, or perhaps BAFTA. If she pulls off that BAFTA win, things get very interesting. Truly, those three are on very even footing.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020): Viola Davis as Ma Rainey. Cr. David Lee / Netflix

Obviously, there’s more to talk about here, and I’ll have a full article next week. I just wanted to acknowledge the Actress race quagmire that we’re all pondering. If nothing else, it has turned the category into the closest competition for a major Oscar in many years. The Academy Awards are always better when the major categories are not a coronation. This category, at the very least, is a far cry from that.

Beyond the Best Actress race, the most notable thing to take note of is Youn Yuh-jung seemingly taking a big lead in Best Supporting Actress for her turn in Minari. I said I’d be predicting the SAG winner in Supporting Actress, and here we are. SAG Ensemble going to The Trial of the Chicago 7 was largely expected, minus the late surge by Minari, but what it means remains to be seen. It could mean nothing. On the other hand, maybe it does? Stay tuned…

Frances McDormand in the film NOMADLAND. Photo by Joshua Richardson. © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

So, I know this is an utter shock to you all, but brace yourself…predictions have been updated once again, where applicable (likely by the time you’re reading this). Of course, it’s not just for the Oscars, either. Yes, in addition to the Academy Awards, everything else has been given a once over in the last handful of days yet again. We have Film Independent Spirit Award winner predictions recently updated, along with my choices for the Directors Guild Awards. So, be sure to look at those DGA picks too. Have at it, folks, and as is always the case, we’re not far out from yet another update…

Andra Day stars in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” (Photo by Takashi Seida)

For easy reference, here are my current Oscar picks, for your perusal:

Best Picture – Nomadland (Second Spot: Promising Young Woman)

Best Director – Chloe Zhao for Nomadland (Second Spot: David Fincher for Mank)

Best Actor – Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Second Spot: Anthony Hopkins for The Father)

Best Actress – Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman (Second Spot: Viola Davis for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

Best Supporting Actor – Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah (Second Spot: Sacha Baron Cohen for The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Supporting Actress – Youn Yuh-jung for Minari (Second Spot: Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm)

Best Original Screenplay – Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman (Second Spot: Aaron Sorkin for The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Adapted Screenplay – Chloe Zhao for Nomadland (Second Spot: Kemp Powers for One Night in Miami…)

Best Animated Feature – Soul (Second Spot: Wolfwalkers)

Best Production Design – Mank (Second Spot: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom)

Best Cinematography – Nomadland (Second Spot: Mank)

Best Costume Design – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Second Spot: Emma.)

Best Film Editing – Sound of Metal (Second Spot: The Trial of the Chicago 7)

Best Makeup & Hairstyling – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Second Spot: Mank)

Best Sound – Sound of Metal (Second Spot: News of the World)

Best Visual Effects – Tenet (Second Spot: The Midnight Sky)

Best Original Score – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Soul (Second Spot: James Newton Howard for News of the World)

Best Original Song – Diane Warren – lo Si (Seen) from The Life Ahead (Second Spot: Leslie Odom Jr. and Sam Ashworth – Speak Now from One Night in Miami…)

Best Documentary Feature – My Octopus Teacher (Second Spot: Crip Came)

Best International Feature – Another Round (Second Spot: Collective)

Best Animated Short Film – If Anything Happens I Love You (Second Spot: Burrow)

Best Live Action Short Film – Two Distant Strangers (Second Spot: The Present)

Best Documentary Short Subject – A Love Song for Latasha (Second Spot: Do Not Split)

PIECES OF A WOMAN: Vanessa Kirby as Martha

Stay tuned for another update next week!


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[…] up to be one of the most thrilling categories in some time. It all begs the question that I asked last week: who the hell is winning Best Actress? Whomever wins among Viola Davis, Andra Day, Vanessa Kirby, […]


[…] be the unpredictability of the Best Actress race this year. We’ve covered it plenty, here and here, specifically, but it’s an all-timer. While we wait to see if Viola Davis, Frances […]



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