Sunday, January 2, 2011

Oscar Predictions: Best Actress in a Leading Role

Because of the busy nature of the next few weeks awards-wise, here are my current Oscar predictions, subject to minor revisions before nominations are announced on January 25th.

Last year’s nominees: Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe, Meryl Streep

This year’s locks: Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)

Very likely: Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)

Possible: Lesley Manville (Another Year), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine), Hilary Swank (Conviction), Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right), Halle Berry (Frankie and Alice)

Unlikely: Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs), Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham), Tilda Swinton (I Am Love)

The rundown: Yikes. What a boatload of contenders. The top three should be all set, and I’d have more faith in Kidman’s chances if there weren’t so damn many people fighting to fill five slots. We’ve seen tragically little of Manville so far this awards season, and I have to hope that Oscar voters will wise up to one of the most acclaimed performances of the year. Hawkins, also a contender this year who’s picked up almost zero precursors, couldn’t manage to get nominated for a Mike Leigh film that she won a Golden Globe for back in 2008, so that precedent works against Manville. Consider the other possibilities, however. Williams could definitely pull votes but her film did get slapped with an NC-17 rating. Even though it’s been since repealed, I think it may be off-putting to voters. Swank peaked a little late with her surprise SAG nod, and there’s been no mention of her film anywhere else, even for once-upon-a-time nominee Sam Rockwell, and so I don’t see her getting in. Berry’s film also has shown up not one place but the Golden Globes, and it strikes me as a Gwyneth Paltrow in “Proof” or Jodie Foster in “The Brave One” Globe-only mention. And then there’s Moore, who is in one of the most well-received films of the year, and will have to surmount considerable internal competition to even place. I don’t see it happening. Anything could happen here, of course, and I’m sure I’ll be surprised on nomination day.

One possible crazy scenario: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) gets a surprise promotion just like Keisha Castle-Hughes did back in 2003 for “Whale Rider.”

Forecasted winner: Ultimately, I think it’s going to be Bening, but we’ll have to see who wins the SAG.

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