Thursday, February 22, 2018

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Actress in a Leading Role

The competition: Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Meryl Streep (The Post)

Previous winners: Emma Stone, Brie Larson, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman
My winner: Announcing shortly after the Oscars!

The facts: Streep makes history with her twenty-first Oscar nomination this year. She won in 2011 for “The Iron Lady,” in 1982 for “Sophie’s Choice,” and “Kramer vs. Kramer” in 1979. McDormand won this award in 1996 for “Fargo” and was also nominated in 1988 for “Mississippi Burning,” in 2000 for “Almost Famous,” and in 2005 for “North Country.” Ronan was nominated in 2015 for “Brooklyn” and in 2007 for “Atonement. “Hawkins was nominated in 2013 for “Blue Jasmine,” though I still wish she had been recognized in 2008 for “Happy-Go-Lucky.” Robbie is a first-time Oscar nominee. McDormand has taken home a Golden Globe, the SAG, the BAFTA, and the Critics’ Choice Award, and Ronan took the comedy Globe. All but Robbie have their films nominated for Best Picture, a statistic that’s notable only since the winner of this award hasn’t had their film win Best Picture since 2004.

Who should win: Streep will always be good but this isn’t her strongest performance, and the fact that she’s the only nominee for her film aside from her Best Picture bid would seem to indicate a default placement of her on this list. Robbie is committed and funny and would be a fine choice even if she’s not my first pick. McDormand is very good, but the performance and film aren’t as strong as her previous win for “Fargo.” Hawkins is lovely and so deserving, but I’d probably give it to Ronan, who perfectly captures director Greta Gerwig’s acting style and delivers a fantastic lead performance in her film.

Who will win: Streep and Robbie don’t have a shot. Hawkins needed to win more this awards season to be truly in the running. I don’t see much weakening McDormand’s domination, but Ronan is an easy choice that might be a great way to reward a film that seems destined to go home empty-handed.

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