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Are We Looking At Trouble Ahead for the Best Actress Race?

The 2014 Oscar race is remembered for many things—albeit the Academy as a whole would like to forget. This was the first of two consecutive years without a person of color amongst the acting nominees. And adding to their troubles only one of the Best Actress contender’s performance was in a film nominated for Best Picture.

In 2014 Julianne Moore won her long overdue Oscar for Still Alice. Moore was joined by: past winners Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night) and Reese Witherspoon (Wild) and first time nominees Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Felicity Huffman (The Theory of Everything). Of the eight Best Picture nominees only, Huffman’s film was singled out as one of the year’s best. Is recent history once again about to repeat itself?

With the Screen Actors Guild Award and BAFTA nominations about a month away this leaves us with only the Critics Choice Award and Golden Globe nominees to judge who will make the Best Actress line up. Keep in mind there’s six nominees at the Critics Choice Awards and the Golden Globes separate Drama and Comedy. As of now the Oscar Best Actress nominees would appear to be (give or take Joey’s predictions here) Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye); Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter); Lady Gaga (House of Gucci); Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer). All five ladies have received a Critics Choice nomination and a Golden Globe Drama nomination. If everything were to work out as expected the Best Actress lineup would not have a single nominee from a Best Picture nominee. The Academy better start praying for an upset.

Of the projected five nominees whose film appears to have the best chances of landing in the top 10? Right now it’s a three-way race between Colman’s, Kidman’s and Stewart’s. 

For Spencer, Pablo Lorain’s film may prove to be to divisive about one of the most famous women in the world Princess Diana. Lorain’s, last film; Jackie (2016) was snubbed for Best Picture. This is one we’ll have to keep an eye on when BAFTA nominations are announced. The British Academy may sink not only the film but it’s star Stewart as well. Keep in mind the British Academy’s President is Princess Diana’s eldest son Prince William. 

The Lost Daughter could be in a decent position to make the Best Picture lineup it will be streaming on Netflix at the end of December. Maggie Gyllenhaal one of the latest actresses turned writer and director has been singled out at the Golden Globes for Best Director and Critics Choice Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay. Netflix, may decide not to push their luck as their other film— The Power of the Dog written and directed by Jane Campion is the front runner not only for Best Picture but across the board in several top categories. After finally having a taste of success at the Emmys in 2021 Netflix, badly wants the Best Picture Oscar and campaigning for one film is a lot easier than two. 

Then there’s Being the Ricardos‘ a story about one of Hollywood’s most famous couples. The Academy loves films about the industry but this is about television stars which could be held against them. It is however written and directed by Aaron Sorkin who might not make the directing lineup again but could easily make the Best Original Screenplay top five after scoring both a Globe and Critics Choice Award nominations. But its ace in the hole could be the acting branches affection for Sorkin projects in general. Should Kidman’s costar Javier Bardem show up amongst the nominees at SAG it might be time to start rethinking your Best Picture lineup. 

Upsets happen— who from a projected Best Picture nominee might crack the Best Actress lineup? Look no further than Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza) she received both a Critics Choice nomination and a Golden Globe Comedy nomination. Also, there’s West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler the film appears to be within the top 10. But this is a crowded field with a who’s who of potential nominees and newcomers could easily be overlooked. 

While currently out of both the Best Picture and Best Actress race be on the lookout for Frances McDormand for The Tragedy of Macbeth to potentially upset both races and since the film doesn’t premiere till Christmas it may be too earlier to tell how they both will perform. McDormand made history as the first actress to win Best Picture (Nomadland) and produce her third Best Actress win. Since even Meryl Streep doesn’t have three Best Actress trophies it’s easy to see how she may be overlooked this year. 

One possible silver-lining to having a Best Actress field without a representative from a Best Picture nominee is the playing field would be even. Since they expanded the Best Picture field in 2009 only four Best Actress winners out of eleven did not come from a film nominated for the top prize. Keep in mind in 2018 when heavily favored Glenn Close (The Wife) lost Best Actress to Colman (The Favourite). Colman’s film was nominated for Best Picture. 

But regardless of what happens on nomination morning. Should the Best Actress field not be represented amongst the Best Picture nominees it will be a huge step back in their strides toward being more diverse.

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Written by @msamandaspears

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