Saturday, September 9, 2017

The state of the 2017 Best Actress race

Now that we're into September, a lot of the movies that will include contenders for Best Actress at the Oscars have been screened. Film festival season is upon us and the prognosticators are out in full force, each providing their two cents on whom they think will end up on the top spot. It's still early of course, but we're far enough along now that I figured I'd take the pulse of the race and give my own thoughts as well.

My go-to resource for getting a sense of who the contenders are has for some time now been Awards Watch. Their aggregate predictions on nominations are very accurate. Gold Derby also has their "Expert" picks up now, but I typically find Awards Watch more valuable. As of today, with 243 Awards Watch users casting votes for Best Actress, the top ten are:

1. Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) 87.24%
2. Meryl Streep (The Post) 82.30%
3. Kate Winslet (Wonder Wheel) 77.37%
4. Jennifer Lawrence (Mother!) 42.39%
5. Annette Bening (Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool) 36.63%
6. Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) 35.80%
7. Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) 35.39%
8. Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul) 28.81%
9. Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes) 23.46%
10. Daniela Vega (A Fantastic Woman) 12.35%

I should mention that until Sally Hawkins's film debuted recently to rave reviews for her, Meryl was solidly in first place. We won't have any reactions to The Post until likely late November, so Meryl's predictions are based solely on the pedigree of the filmmakers. Judi Dench dropped quite a bit recently after reviews were so-so for her film, likewise for Annette Bening, but to a lesser degree. Saoirse Ronan shot up this past week as well, and I'm expecting that Emma Stone will be higher than ninth in October's first poll, after her reviews for playing a young Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes were fantastic.

As recently as yesterday, I, Tonya, the biopic of Tonya Harding had sort of fallen off the radar as it was not set for a definitive 2017 release. After being screened yesterday at the Toronto International Film Festival to mostly great reviews, including for Margot Robbie in the title role, I'm expecting it to get snatched up by a distributor soon and contend for awards.  Expect Robbie to potentially be in next month's top five.

Jessica Chastain will contend for Aaron Sorkin's Molly's Game, and Claire Foy stands a small chance with Breathe, starring alongside Andrew Garfield in a film that looks remarkably similar in tone to The Theory of Everything. It would be a wonderful milestone were Chilean Daniela Vega to sneak in, as she'd be the first transgender actor ever nominated for an Academy Award. I'm disappointed, however, that after strong representation last year, the top ten I've listed includes no person of color.

I have seen zero of the films listed above, but come January, I'll have seen most, if not all. If I had to make my own guesses for a top five right now, I'd have to go with Hawkins, Streep, Winslet, Bening and McDormand. I'd list Lawrence and Dench close behind, and watch out for Margo Robbie. This is a very strong year for women in film, particularly those over 40. I certainly want to see Meryl nominated, but the best circumstance would be that she's not only nominated, but the film does well both critically and financially. Everything is in place for that to happen...on paper.


  1. I just checked Awards Watch and Meryl is still in 1st place with Sally right behind her...

    1. Yes, on the Gold Rush Gang's predictions. That's a group of ten top users that not updated as often. The rankings I've listed are from all users on the site. Which is more accurate is up for debate.