Remember, there isn’t really an Oscar race now. Rather, there is a pretend Oscar race. There is a lot of chatter on Twitter about the race. It is mostly contained there, with very little spillover. Oh, how I long for the days when there was less of it. But how can I even criticize that, considering my own involvement in building this empire of hype. Either which way, to my mind there is always too much certainty on Twitter about how things will go or won’t go, not enough of fluidity about how things can really change. Those who cover the race, in a sense, believe they create the results.
For instance, right now there is a long thread about which movies the Golden Globes are going to choose. But this conversation is happening outside the recent controversy involving the Globes. I think it will have some impact on what they choose. I don’t know if they will go full BAFTA or not, but it is going to lean in that direction (diversity, equity, inclusion) more than people realize, considering they’ve just formed an alliance with the NAACP. Gone are the days when they just did whatever they wanted to do (ditto BAFTA, ditto the Academy).
Film Twitter’s buzz and hype revolves around the movies that they like best. And these aren’t going to necessarily be what the Oscar voters like best. Although it’s possible they might drive certain high profile awards shows like the Gothams and could influence the committees at BAFTA as to whom they might choose. And certainly the Spirit Awards and perhaps Los Angeles and New York will all be in an ongoing conversation with Twitter about who the winners should be. A Twitter swarm is an overwhelming thing that, in its own way, can have enormous influence. Just look at how influential the single hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been.
Best Actress is incredibly crowded this year already, with some performances yet to be seen. The hotter the Best Picture contender, the better the chances for a nomination. Best Picture is often driven by male performances, but this year there are plenty of female-driven films that could land in the race — movies like Spencer or The Eyes of Tammy Faye or CODA or The Last Duel or House of Gucci. Some of this is due to female filmmakers being on the rise this year. But some of it is just the changing times. There is no market driving the film industry right now. If you take away the market, the possibilities are endless.
The year started with Jennifer Hudson in the frontrunner’s spot. It wasn’t a prediction that was lighting Film Twitter on fire, however. Either they didn’t like the movie or they didn’t feel excited about the performance — whatever it is, Hudson was not thought to be “The One.” Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana seems to be the one that is gaining most of the support, at least for now. She is quickly followed by Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. These two seem to be the strongest, or at least that remains true over at Gold Derby.
The only actress who is earning the top spot in more places than either Stewart or Chastain is Lady Gaga in House of Gucci. The love for the unseen House of Gucci is so strong, many pundits and Film Twitter are reluctant to consider Jodie Comer in Ridley Scott’s other movie, The Last Duel. Gaga has star power and maybe the movie is as great as the pundits hope it is. I guess we’ll have to see.
There are several pundits who have “gone rogue,” choosing Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter, Cate Blanchett in Nightmare Alley, and Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers.
There are still months to go yet. There are more movies to see. Maybe a consensus will build. Maybe a consensus won’t build. But there is good cause to believe that this year will look a lot like last year in terms of how the various voting bodies will try hard to be diverse and inclusive with their choices.
If we look at the top five contenders at Gold Derby right now, you see:
Kristen Stewart, Spencer
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Lady Gaga, House of Gucci
Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Jennifer Hudson is at #7.
And Erik Anderson at AwardsWatch:
1. Kristen Stewart – Spencer (NEON) ↔
2. Frances McDormand – The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24/Apple) ↑
3. Penélope Cruz – Parallel Mothers (Sony Pictures Classics) ↑
4. Cate Blanchett – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) ↑
5. Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter (Netflix) ↑
6. Caitriona Balfe – Belfast (Focus Features) ↑
7. Lady Gaga – House of Gucci (MGM/UA) ↓
8. Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Searchlight Pictures) ↓
9. Halle Berry – Bruised (Netflix) ↔
10. Jennifer Hudson – Respect (MGM/UA) ↓
We also know now that Catriona Balfe is going to be placed in the supporting category, so we can just move Gaga up a notch. Erik has the studios listed here because he knows that it matters who is pushing what contender. For instance, much of the hype around Colman in The Lost Daughter is only partly due to the performance and the star — it also has to do with Colman being Netflix’s main play in this category and Netflix is great at the campaigning part. And that, more than anything, makes me think Colman has a better than average shot at cracking the top five. Adding to it is that the director, Maggie Gyllenhaal, is popular among actors. The combination of factors might overcome the film’s somewhat dark-ish theme.
So let’s dig into the era under the expanded Best Picture ballot, to help determine who the nominees for Best Actress may be.
There are three ways these contenders will be measured by industry voters.
- Likability of Star
- Likability of Role
- Likability of Movie
+Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side — Star/Role/Movie (overdue) — Globe/SAG wins
Helen Mirren, The Last Station — Star
Carey Mulligan, An Education — Role/Movie — BAFTA win
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious — Role/Movie
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia — Star/Role — Globe win
+Natalie Portman, Black Swan — Star/Role/Movie — Globe/SAG/BAFTA wins
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right — Star/Role/Movie — Globe win
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole — Star
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone — Role/Movie
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine — Star
+Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady — Star (overdue) — Globe/BAFTA wins
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs — Star
Viola Davis, The Help — Star/Role/Movie — SAG win
Rooney Mara, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — Star/Role
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn — Star/Role — Globe win
+Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook — Star/Role/Movie — Globe/SAG wins
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty — Star/Movie — Globe win
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour — Role/Movie — BAFTA win
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild — Role/Movie
Naomi Watts, The Impossible — Star
+Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine — Star — Globe/SAG/BAFTA wins
Amy Adams, American Hustle — Star/Role/Movie — Globe win
Sandra Bullock, Gravity — Star/Role/Movie
Judi Dench, Philomena — Star/Role/Movie
Meryl Streep, August Osage County — Star
+Julianne Moore, Still Alice — Star (overdue) — Globe/SAG/BAFTA wins
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night — Star/Role
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything — Role/Movie
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl — Star/Role
Reese Witherspoon, Wild — Star/Role
+Brie Larson, Room — Role/Movie — Globe/SAG/BAFTA wins
Cate Blanchett, Carol — Star
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy — Star — Globe win
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years — Star
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn — Star/Role/Movie
+Emma Stone, La La Land — Star/Role/Movie — Globe/SAG/BAFTA wins
Isabelle Huppert, Elle — Star — Globe win
Ruth Negga, Loving — Movie
Natalie Portman, Jackie — Star
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins — Star
+Frances McDormand, Three Billboards — Star/Role/Movie — Globe/SAG/BAFTA wins
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water — Role/Movie
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya — Star
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird — Star/Role/Movie — Globe win
Meryl Streep, The Post — Star/Movie
+Olivia Colman, The Favourite — Role/Movie — Globe/BAFTA win
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma — Role/Movie
Glenn Close, The Wife — Star (overdue) — Globe/SAG wins
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born — Star/Role/Movie
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? — Star/Role
+Renée Zellweger, Judy — Star/Role — Globe/SAG/BAFTA wins
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet — Star/Role
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story — Star/Movie
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women — Star/Movie
Charlize Theron, Bombshell — Star
+Frances McDormand, Nomadland — Star/Role/Movie — BAFTA win
Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — Star — SAG win
Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday — Role — Globe win
Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman — Star
Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman — Star/Role/Movie
As you can see, only twice in all of that time did Best Picture winners have Best Actress nominees, and only once did Best Picture and Best Actress match.
We’re definitely not at the stage where we should be thinking about winners. Right now we’re just thinking about nominees. But remember, now that the Golden Globes have joined forces with the NAACP, they (like the BAFTA and the Academy) may be on a mission to make their picks more equitable.
You can feel a consensus starting to build when one does build. The trick, though, is to see beyond the consensus on Film Twitter. It doesn’t always match what the consensus among industry voters is going to be.
So how about a poll?