In 2012 Helen Mirren was nominated for a Golden Globe, a SAG and a BAFTA for her work in Hitchcock. She is one of a half-dozen since 2000 to earn all three nominations and miss the Oscar. The reason for that was Michael Haneke’s Amour. Not only did Emmanuelle Riva earn a Best Actress nod, but the film also got Best Picture and Best Director. Interesting, isn’t it? While Emily Blunt did not earn a Golden Globe nod for Girl on the Train, she did earn a SAG and a BAFTA, which puts her in the running for the fifth slot, with a lot of competition coming from other actresses.
Here are the actresses who earned a Globe, a SAG, and a BAFTA nom but missed Best Actress at the Oscars:
Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha (Keira Knightley, Pride and Prejudice)
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin (Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Helen Mirren, Hitchcock (Emmanuelle Riva, Amour)
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone (Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks (Amy Adams, American Hustle)
In almost all of the examples listed above, the film was the weak link. They did not like the film. And that might turn out to be the problem for Emily Blunt, as the film itself was not as well received as some others.
First, what drives a Best Actress nomination? Love for star, love for character, love for film. Those three things almost always take precedence over how well skilled the performance was. On the flipside, if the love for the star, the character or the film is that strong, just about anyone can get nominated, whether their performance was difficult or accomplished or not. That love rules all.
Here is how I see the competition:
Emma Stone, La La Land – love for star, love for character, love for film (DGA)
Amy Adams, Arrival – love for star, love for character, love for film (DGA)
Natalie Portman, Jackie – love for star, love for character
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins – love for star, love for character
Emily Blunt, Girl on the Train – love for star mainly
Annette Bening – love for star mainly
Isabelle Huppert, Elle – love for star mainly
Ruth Negga, Loving – love for character
The question is, is there any film that might drag along a Best Actress nominee with a Best Picture we’re not thinking of? There certainly is:
Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures is an unknown at the moment. Its box office really took off after ballots were turned in. If the new membership has a lot of love for it, and the buzz keeps growing, and Henson’s popularity in the industry help, she could be in a pretty good position to take that fifth slot. But right now we don’t even know if Hidden Figures will get in, how popular it will be, and what the overall reaction to the film will be from the industry.
What I do know about it right now is that it is very popular out there in the world, beloved by many. It won’t appeal to high minded film critics and probably not the directors branch, but there is something to be said for a film that that took the number one spot two weeks in a row, got an A+ from Cinemascore, and is such a crowdpleaser that the audience out in Burbank I saw it with on a Sunday night applauded throughout and at the end.
If Hidden Figures ever became a legit threat it would be attacked. Women – BLACK WOMEN – in the lead? Yeah, you bet they would be coming for it. As it is, it is flying neatly under the radar. But we’ll just have to see what happens when the nominations are announced.
I thought after Telluride that Emma Stone has this walking away. I still think that. To me, La La land’s success rests almost entirely on her shoulders. It’s such a captivating, brilliant performance and she gives herself over to it completely. She reminds me of Gwyenth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love where her performance drives the film’s overall success. She remains the frontrunner.
Right behind her is still Natalie Portman for Jackie. The problem for her is that she’s already won an Oscar in a film that turned out to be more popular than the film Jackie has turned out to be. Why this is, I have no idea. But there is a current throughout the industry that seems not to favor the film. Isabelle Huppert won the Golden Globe instead of Portman and while that doesn’t mean everything, it shows that a sweep isn’t afoot. If Portman wins the SAG, of course, all bets are off and she is the winner. Her performance as Jackie is so exacting at some point you forget you are watching her. If pure skill were the reason for picking a winner, she would win hands down, but that isn’t how you find a Best Actress winner. Love for star, love for character, love for film. Those drive it more.
Annette Bening remains a threat, although the lack of love for 20th Century Women might prevent her from earning that nomination. Also, hers really is a supporting role more than it is lead and she shares the film with two other women who have equal roles. But she’s great and the industry has great affection and gratitude to her for her contributions to the Academy Museum.
Amy Adams won my heart this year as Louise Banks in Arrival. Working on her sixth nomination with no win. She’s been nominated in supporting four times and in lead once. If nominated, this will be her second Oscar nomination for lead.
Amy Adams might join this list with Glenn Close at 6/6. Kate Winslet finally won on her 6th try.
Thelma Ritter, Glenn Close, Deborah Kerr all had or have six nominations with no wins. Geraldine Page had seven before she won on her eighth win. Of course, Peter O’Toole had eight, Richard Burton had seven. Love for star, love for character, love for film all have to align.
Amy Adams turned in two performances this year with Nocturnal Animals and Arrival. If she’d been run in supporting for Nocturnal, she could have been nominated twice. But Adams doesn’t have the buzz at the moment and probably can’t beat Stone, Portman or Huppert who keep winning. Likely Adams will have to either take all of her clothes and have dirty dirty sex on screen to win, or else transform herself somehow by gaining 50 pounds or losing 50 pounds or suffering greatly in some fashion to finally win.
Isabelle Huppert remains a wild card. This lovely French actress has been turning in one great performance after another and yet has never been nominated by the Academy. Two performances this year in Elle and Things to Come made her the critics darling. Her graciousness when she wins — and more importantly, how beautiful she still is — makes her a formidable contender not just for a nomination but for a surprise win.
Ruth Negga seems to have been mostly out of the conversation, and that would not have improved if she’d run in supporting as that category is even more competitive than this one. All the same, there is a chance that Loving might make a last minute rally with the Academy. It would be unusual but these things CAN happen, if the movie pulls her along with it.
It’s a good time to take a moment appreciate what an incredible year this has been for actresses. There is a chance that we’ll have a Best Picture winner with a Best Actress contender, maybe winner for the first time since 2004. We have women of color with legitimate chances of a nomination, though if there is a weakness still, this is where it lies – no black actress has won since Halle Berry in 2001.
Women are depicted as smart and capable, from a linguist like Louise Banks in Arrival, to a actress/playwright like Mia in La La Land, to Jackie Kennedy in Jackie, to a math whiz and Medal of Freedom recipient in Hidden Figures. Whether they are all nominated or not, this year seemed to be reaching for something that American culture couldn’t or wouldn’t meet the first time a woman had a legit shot at winning the presidency. This year’s Oscar race, though, for once gives me hope for the future.
Take our poll! Which five get in.