The Best Actress race has been shaken up a bit with the announcement that Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl and Rooney Mara for Carol are “going lead.” This puts them squarely in competition with the Best Actress powerhouses – in Mara’s case, up against her own co-star. How will this play out? It’s hard to say. There have been category mix-ups before. It tends to thrust the race into more unpredictable territory ultimately.
In supporting, both Vikander and Mara were being bandied about as potential winners. That’s because they really do both have leading performances which always have a better chance to win when put in supporting. It also gives them a bit of an unfair advantage over the true supporting nominees because a legit supporting role isn’t given as much screen time or represent fully realized characters. This is how Christoph Waltz won the Oscar for “supporting” for Django Unchained (when he was clearly lead).
It worked in reverse for Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook – and that may be where both of these actresses, but especially Mara, find themselves. There is no question that Vikander is lead. She’s practically the star of The Danish Girl, where Redmayne could arguably be supporting. But Mara is a slightly different case. Sure, she’s co-lead but she’s more in Lawrence territory and could have arguably “gone supporting.”
But let’s see if there is any wiggle room at the Globes.
Probably no wiggle room for:
Brie Larson, Room
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
The next name in line is Cate Blanchett for Carol. There is little chance that both actresses are getting in and in fact, they could split the vote and then neither will get in. That’s entirely possible. If both manage to get in, Carol will be considered VERY VERY popular with the HFPA – and that’s possible given their tastes and the Weinstein factor.
The fifth slot is the tricky one. Without Vikander, the fifth slot could be Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years, or Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road. With Vikander though? I suspect she will take that fifth slot, given the strength of her performance in the film.
Does that mean Vikander and Mara might “go lead” for SAG and the Oscars too? It’s really up to them. Generally, the ducks get lined up so that the mix-ups don’t happen. The most recent example was Kate Winslet for The Reader who was named supporting at the Globes (and won in that category and in the lead actress category). She won in supporting at SAG and then won in lead at the Oscars. I don’t think we’re looking at a winner for either Mara or Vikander, however, unless we’re talking supporting.
In supporting, without those two, it opens things up greatly for fringe dwellers. That category might now be having openings for Joan Allen for Room, or even Kristen Stewart for Clouds of Sils Maria, not to mention Elizabeth Banks for Love & Mercy and Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight, to name a few.
In terms of the comedy category, there is a little more breathing room that allows for people like Amy Schumer for Trainwreck, Lily Tomlin for Grandma, Maggie Smith for The Lady in the Van. Might Regina Case sneak in for comedy? I know, extreme long shot.