PREDICTIONS: Best Actress – Where We Currently Stand

Alex has posted a wonderful run down for this years best actor hopefuls which can be found here. As an avid Oscar tracker I approached him with my thoughts on the best actress race and now would like to share them with you. We are at a very exciting time in this years Oscar race for best actress, as we have some clear frontrunners, some heavy dark horses, and quite a few heavyweights that remain unseen. When looking back into the past the race for best actress is one that usually falls under the category of a sweep (such as last years winner Natalie Portman) or a last minute dark horse win (such as the previous winner Sandra Bullock). This year there seems to be a lot of confusion with a variety of critics picking a variety of performances as their predicted winner. This years best actress race is a crowded one (perhaps even more crowded that the Best Actor race). I agree with Alex’s predictions in best actor and it seems that Leonardo DiCaprio has the buzz that may carry on to a win. However in actress there are so many choices. Below are my predictions at this moment.

In first place as I see it now is Viola Davis in The Help. I am putting her in front-runner status for a variety of reasons. First of all the movie has been a surprising financial success. She plays a very likable character as well, we see how this has helped some nominees from rather lightweight films (cough cough Sandra Bullock) in the past. She is immensely talented and the Academy still must have good will towards her from her breakthrough performance in Doubt. The critics raved her performance in the film as well. I, personally believe that she may belong in the supporting category. However, with a strong performance by newcomer Octavia Spencer, the studio heads have pushed for Davis in the lead – hoping to double dip acting awards. I believe it will work and Davis will get her second nomination. I am unsure if she will win, but I am putting her at the top for a likely nomination.

In second place is an unseen performance. Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher has Oscar written all over it. Why? Because its Meryl. We have seen she gets nominations left and right for fantastic performances and even for “good” performances (in my opinion her nod for Julie and Julia was more of a respect nod than a deserved one). I don’t have much to base her performance on other than an early teaser trailer and a poster. Admittedly, I didn’t love the teaser trailer and thought it reminded me a bit to much of Streep’s Julia Child. However if anyone can take the controversial Margaret Thatcher and turn it into a memorable and powerful performance it is Streep, who is acting royalty.

In a close third place is Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs. She is a 5 time nominee and has left each time empty handed. She, like Streep, is acting royalty. Lately she has been away from film and flourishing on television (she is pitch perfect every season on Damages for which she has won many accolades). Albert Nobb‘s is also a passion project. Close performed in the stage version of this over 8 years ago and has since then written the script for the film and been the key producer behind it making it to the screen. The Oscar’s love this. It also allows for a Streep vs. Close showdown which will surely be exciting for their perspective fans. However the film has received lukewarm reception at its early screenings. Close has received great reviews – but some say the performance is too subtle – and Oscar rarely goes for this. Based upon her status in Hollywood and the fact that this could be a comeback story, I still put her near the top of the list.

In fourth place is Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. After seeing the film this past week at the Chicago film festival, I was left luke-warm by the performance. That aside, it is earning raves left and right. She also has the Weinstein machine behind her, which helped her last year in a smaller film Bule Valentine. She is a fantastic actress with 2 nominations. She also fills the younger slot which Oscar loves. It’s also a biopic which Oscar loves. When it gets a wider release, if more people share my feelings that the movie is extremely weak – she may lose momentum. But I just don’t see it. It’s a film made for a leading actress nomination, and with Williams being that actress, I do believe it is a sure shot.

For the fifth slot in the race, it’s wide open. There are so many people to choose from. First up surely is Tilda Swinton for her groundbreaking work in We Need to Talk About Kevin. But is the movie too dark? She has won before in supporting, and this performance blows that one out of the water. But she missed out last year with a brilliant turn in Julia, and she could be overlooked again. Then there’s Rooney Mara for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The film is highly anticipated, and being directed by Fincher. 7 minutes of the film have been screened and Mara was the standout from early notices. Elizabeth Olsen came out of the gate very strong for Martha Marcy May Marlene and could easily fit into the Jennifer Lawrence slot this year. Kirsten Dunst turned in her best performance to date in Melancholia and won big at Cannes, but has director Lars Von Trier’s controversial statements killed her chances? Perhaps the most anticipated performance is Charlize Theron in Jason Reitman’s Young Adult. Theron is a loved past winner, and Reitman is 3 for 3 as far as nominations go. The trailer looks a little lightweight, but the film is rumored to be very dark. Is Theron’s character too unlikable or will it be just right? One early review said this performance tops her Aileen Wuornos for which she won the Oscar, if that is true she’s guaranteed right?  Other hopefuls include: Felicity Jones (Like Crazy), Vera Farmiga (Higher Ground), Olivia Coleman (who is gaining a lot of momentum for her performance in Tyrannosaur), Michelle Yeoh (The Lady), Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea), and Kristin Scott Thomas (Sarah’s Key). Or could the Oscar surprise us all and go for a comedic performance including the ladies of Carnage (Kate Winslet, Jodi Foster) or Kristin Wiig (Bridesmaids)? As you can see there are so many names.

Here are my predicted top 5 at this moment:

1. Viola Davis – The Help
2. Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
3. Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs
4. Michelle Williams – My Week With Marilyn
5. Charlize Theron – Young Adult

(with alternates Tilda Swinton and Rooney Mara)

I welcome your comments!

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  • Frontrunners:

    1. Viola Davis – The Help (i thought the movies wasn’t that good but her performance was superb.)

    2. Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady (duh!!!)

    My personal other choices beside the 2 :

    Kirsten Dunst, Elizabeth Olson, Rooney Mara.

    Most likely :

    Michelle Williams and Glenn Close.

    and Casey good job once again :)

  • Great predictions, Casey! I definitely agree with your top four, although I think Glenn Close might be in the 1 or 2 spot right now.

    For the number five spot, I think Tilda is more likely to get in then Theron. Based on the trailer, ‘Young Adult’ looks like a very straight-forward film and not significant enough to earn any major awards. I could very well be wrong, but it’s one of my biggest doubts of this Fall’s films.

    • Thanks Alex!
      In my personal list Glenn Close will always be number 1. I think she has deserved 2 oscar’s so far. I think the trailer for Nobbs looks great and I hold onto my hope that this year she will finally win. After, after seeing Tilda’s performance – she should be in the top 2 as well. I am just unsure if the Academy will embrace the film and the character.

      My personal list of who I WANT to be nominated would be:

      1. Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs
      2. Tilda Swinton – We Need To Talk About Kevin
      3. Kirsten Dunst – Melancholia
      4. Vera Farmiga – Higher Ground
      5. Elizabeth Olsen – Martha Marcy May Marlene

  • Mine would be:
    Meryl Streep
    Glenn Close
    Michelle Williams
    Keira Knightley
    Viola Davis- it hurts me to put her here because she’s not really the leading actress in The Help.

  • Genadijus

    Talking about about Best Actress category, this is always very tight and interesting. Last year we had quite dua-pole situation (Portman vs. Bening), this year there is a little bit different situation.
    From my point of view, Glen Close didn’t get a huge buzz as it was predicted, so I won’t be so surprised if she won’t get a nomination…
    Secondly, Charlize Theron reminds last years Anne Hathaway. Everybody thought that “Love and other drug” will be quite good chance to get a nomination, but it wasn’t happen. “Young Adults” has one good guarantee, and this is director Jason Reitman.
    A buzz for Viola Davis is going down, so it can happen that she didn’t receive a recognition from Academy also…
    So, my nomination list looks like this:
    1. Meryl Streep – “The Iron Lady” (Bafta nomination locked).
    2. Michelle Williams – “My Week with Marilyn” (Bafta nomination locked).
    3. Rachel Weisz – “Deep Blue Sea” or “The Whistleblower” (Bafta nomination locked)
    4. Kirsten Dunst – “Melancholia” (I feel that this will be first nomination, following the second next year “On the Road” for supporting).
    5. Tilda Swinton / Viola Davis / Rooney Mara / Kristin Scot Thomas / Charlize Theron / Keira Knightley (Bafta nom. probably for sure).

  • I am absolutely terrible at awards predictions, so I won’t insult you all by trying to come up with my own list of Best Actress contenders.

    I will lament, though, that Juliette Binoche in Certified Copy doesn’t even have a chance in making the shortlist. It’s a shame, because her performance really is the best one you’ll see this year (Alex, I *know* you have to be on the same page with me on this).

    • Absolutely, Justin. Like Casey said, she is in MY personal list of Best Actresses of 2011. I wonder if it’s the fact that the movie played in festivals last year, but was released this year that is holding it back? It’s truly disappointing that it is not leading in every category…

  • Genadijus

    Alex and Justin, I truly agree with you about Juliette Binoche. From my European perspective she one of the greatest french actresses working in french and english language films. However, this year there’ll be very very difficult for foreign language film actress to enter th long-list as well.

    For example, for me the best performance of the year is Peyman Moaadi from “A Separation” (dir. Asghar Farhadi). She won Silver Bear in Berlin.

  • Matthew

    Wonderful list! On one hand I want Viola Davis to win because her performance was truly amazing, but I always have a soft spot for my lady Meryl. And her playing Margaret Thatcher? I’m terrified to see it, for fear it will be utterly breathtaking, or a big let down.

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