Monday, December 5, 2022

Surveying The Oscar Field – Who Is Still In The Hunt For The Best Actress Oscar This Year?

By Deann Chiazzese

The conversation as to whether objective criteria will prevail over social factors and subjective bias in this year’s Oscar race has never been more relevant. Perhaps you are one that believes that objectively good work will always get the award. There are other camps that believe strongly that the social climate will impact nominations and winners this year. No matter where you fall, it is always interesting to consider the question. With less than a month until Golden Globe nominations and 38 days to go until final Oscar nominations, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look the current contenders for Best Actress.


With the barrage of accusations owning the internet, it felt timely to re-evaluate the potential impact of relevant news on key categories.   What better place to start than Best Actress race. Female director considerations are heating up with standouts like Dee Rees (“Mudbound“) and Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird“). Additionally, Kathryn Bigelow (“Detroit“) and even Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman“) are at least part of the discussion. Many are asking if this could be a standout year for women directors. We can only hope this continues to move in the right direction. 

As you will see in the current Best Actress short list below, we are very behind. Narrative and direction have paved the way for amazing female performances to occur. As it stands today, very rarely are those roles written and/or directed for women by women.   Until we have appropriate representation of women writing and creating our media, we must always keep this in mind when evaluating the female-specific acting categories. 
 
So, let’s jump in and focus on what we have this year. We have captured a short list of standouts for 2017 (This is not an exhaustive list but a good sampling). These are the performances that are in the conversation after the majority of the films have now been screened. These are listed based on my view of current likelihood. Your list may be ordered differently but the questions remain the same.

​Frances McDormand

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​Film – Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri ​”​
Oscar History – 4 Noms/1 win 
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – This was written for a female protagnist and the narrative is a mother on a very personal search for justice against a horrific crime. Will voters rally behind this message and her performance as a result?

Meryl Streep

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​Film – “The Post”
Oscar History – 20 Noms/3 wins 
Female Writer – Yes (1/2)
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Portrayal (Kay Graham)
Status – Some major pluses with this pick include 1/2 the writing team being female and amazing talent is involved. Will the writing and directing effectively showcase this as Kay’s story and resonate with voters?

Margot Robbie

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​Film – “I, Tonya”
Oscar History – 0 Noms
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Portrayal (Tonya Harding)
Status – Being the newcomer amongst Oscar alumnis could help Margot. Will potraying a divisive figure with potential ties to a violent crime overshadow the great performance?

Sally Hawkins

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​Film – The Shape Of Water
Oscar History – 1 Nom 
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – She does not speak and this is a love story. No narrative spoilers in this article so lets wait until the nominations are in to dive deeper.

Jessica Chastain

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​Film – “Molly’s Game”
Oscar History – 2 Noms 
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Portrayal (Molly Bloom)
Status – She is definitely in a man’s world making her own rules and is sure to impress with Sorkin’s cutting writing style. Will we see layers to the character that make her accessible and likeable?


Saoirse Ronan

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​Film – Lady Bird
Oscar History – 2 Noms
Female Writer – Yes
Female Director – Yes
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – This is our most likely shot to have a Best Actress winner in a role written and directed by a woman.  Can a simple coming of age story breakthrough enough for voters to weigh this performance against some of the other heavy hitters tackling heavy subjects?

Kate Winslet

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​Film – Wonder Wheel
Oscar History – 7 Noms/1 Win
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – With harrassment and assault scandals plaguing hollywood, will the ties to Woody Allen, as writer and director, hurt Kate’s chances?

Emma Stone

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​Film – Battle Of The Sexes
Oscar History – 2 Noms/1 win
Female Writer – No
Female Director – Yes (1/2)
Fictional/Portrayal – Portrayal (Billie Jean King)
Status – Despite being the recent Best Actress winner for her performance in “La La Land,” this has lost almost all of its buzz. We all need some triumph in our lives. With the current scrutiny on systemic mysogony, harrassment and assault, could this movie make a comeback and put Emma back in contention?

Judi Dench

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​Film – Victoria & Abdul
Oscar History – 7 Noms/1 Win
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Portrayal (Queen Victoria)
Status – Does the snapshot of such a short period of this predominant figure life do enough to make the character multi-dementional? Is it more Abdul’s story than Victoria’s?

Jennifer Lawrence

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​Film – Mother!
Oscar History – 4 Noms/1 Win
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
​Status – This is movie about greed, power and selfishness and Jennifer’s character is the grounding force in the chaos. Could this timely message help her chances?


Carey Mulligan

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​Film – Mudbound
Oscar History – 1 Nom
Female Writer – Yes
Female Director – Yes
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – Our only other possible female written and directedShe is rumored not to be the standout of this film. Will the strength of the ensemble cast around her build her brand?

Selma Hayak

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​Film – Beatriz At Dinner
Oscar History – 1 Nom
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – A kind and  spirited woman takes on a “Trump” like figure. Will that message help move her up the ranks for consideration?

Brooklynn Price

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​Film – The Florida Project
Oscar History – 0 Noms
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – Can a divisive story showcasing this first time child actress even begin to contend with the depth of the roles on this list?

Michelle Williams

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​Film – “All The Money In The World”
Oscar History – 4 Noms
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – Ridley Scott is recasting Spacey and holding the release date for this film. Could it be to ensure Michelle gets a seat at the table because she is a fantastic in this movie? 

Vicky Krieps

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​Film – “Phantom Thread”
Oscar History – 0 Noms
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – There is enough intrigue to imply there are twists in this film. She appears to simply be the sideline to Daniel Day Lewis’s movie.    Is there is a secret in this performance that will help to elevate her in the race?


Daniela Vega

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​Film – “A Fantastic Woman”
Oscar History – 0 Noms
Female Writer – No
Female Director – No
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – This would be the first transgender acting nomination. Could this be the statement voters decide to make this year? Is the performance enough to warrant it?

Gal Gadot

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​Film – Wonder Woman
Oscar History – 0 Noms
Female Writer – No
Female Director – Yes
Fictional/Portrayal – Fictional
Status – This is a stretchbut I include it because it is getting the most mainstream buzz and it is a female performance directed by a female. It is a long, long shot to say the least outside of a potential win for Best Actress in an Action Movie at the Critics Choice Awards.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article. We will release that when the nominees are finalized and continue the exploration that we started here. In the meantime, we want to know what you think. Did we leave anyone off? Who stands the most to benefit from what is a very toxic and controversial time in Hollywood right now? Please let us know in the comments below.

You can follow Deann and hear more of her thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @tweedledeedee33

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