There is a subtle shift in the punditry world away from the consensus of Lily Gladstone becoming the first Native American to win Best Actress and Emma Stone winning her second Oscar for Poor Things. The influx of international voters in recent years plus Gladstone missing the BAFTA means that Stone now has the advantage. This isn’t a Michelle Yeoh vs. Cate Blanchett situation anymore because both actresses hit every marker:
It’s not so simple as the stats because of the fundamental factors that have changed. The BAFTA jury choosing three of the acting nominees along with Gladstone’s historic placement in the race make it perhaps not a sure thing as some might believe. This is what it looks like now:
If the industry is behind Gladstone then she will win the SAG award. The BAFTA might tip it to Stone. Then we’re set up for a potential split vote scenario. One of the most famous of these was the year 1950, when Bette Davis and Anne Baxter were both up for All About Eve along with Gloria Swanson for Sunset Boulevard. Eleanor Parker was also nominated for Caged. The winner? Judy Holliday for Born Yesterday.
Sunset Boulevard and Born Yesterday were both Best Picture nominees, but All About Eve was the Best Picture winner. Still, Oscar voters felt strongly about Holliday’s performance, or they just liked that movie enough to give her the prize, the film’s only win.
The counter example to this would be 1983 when both Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger were up for Terms of Endearment, which also won Best Picture. MacLaine took the prize, even though some thought they might split their vote.
We don’t have that kind of vote splitting. We could have Gladstone and Stone facing off, with Stone taking the Critics Choice. Are there scenarios in our recent history that look like this? Not really. Prior to the jury being brought in for BAFTA, they mostly followed the consensus. But this could come close in terms of stats, minus the BAFTA:
For whatever reason, the BAFTA jury did not feel the need to place Gladstone if she wasn’t one of the top three vote-getters. We need to find out which of these three were the top vote-getters and which were placed.
Emma Stone, Poor Things
Carey Mulligan, Maestro
Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall
Margot Robbie, Barbie
Fantasia Barrino, The Color Purple
Vivian Oparah, Rye Lane
I can tell you with 100% certainty that if Lily Gladstone wins the SAG she will win the Oscar, even with the BAFTA voters. The reason is that she will get a standing ovation as history will have been made. It’s easy to be cynical about it, and I myself have been advocating for the awards race to be about the best performance. But if making history is just sitting right there in front of you, how could you not?
If it is just about the performance then the game changes. Did Emma Stone give a better performance than Annette Bening in Nyad? Or how about Sandra Huller in Anatomy of a Fall? Not to mention there’s Carey Mulligan in Maestro. What Stone has going for her is that she will, not to put too fine on it, rouse the stirrings of the loins of the mostly male, mostly hetero Academy voters, many of them now “international.”
So, the Gold Derby pundits are probably right. Stone will win and that is that. They obviously loved the movie as it’s nominated across the board. The SAG nom com opted out of an ensemble nomination, which is a little strange.
There’s one more way to measure things. Let’s look at Rotten Tomatoes audience score vs. their critics score.
In recent years, the lowest audience score I could find for a Best Actress winner was, wait for it, The Favourite.
None of this is going to make much of a difference. The truth is that the performance everyone is talking about is Emma Stone in Poor Things. That tells me she has more than a great shot at winning. If anyone else wins, it will be because of two things. 1) People are weirded out by Poor Things in general.
I always figured that most men are accepting of just about anything if they get something in return. Relationships are transactional. That Poor Things is lusty and rewarding in that way, it isn’t as distancing as, say, Barbie. That’s just my own controversial take.
Normies might find Poor Things weird but they don’t vote on film awards. People in an exclusive club do – so….2) the vote is split three ways, with Stone, Gladstone and Huller dividing the vote, allowing, say, Annette Bening — a veteran — to finally win.
So why am I sticking with Lily Gladstone? I think it’s a big deal that this movie was made the way it was, and a big deal that Oscar voters have this chance to honor both the film and the actress. I could see it going either way, honestly, but I felt when Stone won at the Critics Choice there was a feeling of deflation, the same kind of feeling as when Jim Cameron beat Kathryn Bigelow at the Globes or Cate Blanchett beat Michelle Yeoh. If there is the opportunity to feel good or not feel good, people are going to choose to feel good.
But who knows. Maybe I’ll change my mind.
Either way, here are my predictions, for what it’s worth.
Director: Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer
Actor: Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers (alt. Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer)
Actress: Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon (alt. Emma Stone, Poor Things or Annette Bening, Nyad)
Supporting Actor: Robert Downey, Jr. Oppenheimer
Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers
Original Screenplay: The Holdovers (alt. Anatomy of a Fall)
Adapted Screenplay: Barbie (alt. American Fiction)
Production Design: Poor Things
Visual Effects: Godzilla Minus One
Song: I’m Just Ken (alt. What Was I Made For)
Hair and Makeup: Maestro (alt. Poor Things)
Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Documentary Feature: 20 Days in Mariupol
International Feature: The Zone of Interest
Animated Short: War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko (alt. Ninety-Five Senses)
Live Action Short: The After
Doc Short: Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó (alt. The Barber of Little Rock)
That’s seven for Oppenheimer. It deserves more but there are no real sweeps in the era of the expanded ballot.