By John H. Foote
Once again, as in the previous three, this category will be packed with potential nominees and is likely the most diverse of the major categories. Veterans, newcomers alike will compete for one of the five spots for Best Actress.
What is thrilling is the diversity among the contenders, not only are there a lot of women vying for nominations, many of them are non-white. It will be an exciting campaign and finish.
And yes, expect Streep among them.
MERYL STREEP IN THE LAUNDROMAT
Nomination, what? Twenty-two? Unbelievable the genius of this woman. Are there really still arguments about her being hailed the greatest actress in the English language cinema? Here she is among those caught up in the exposure of the devastating Panama Papers. Expect brilliance.
CYNTHIA ERIVO IN HARRIET
After impressing us last year in Widows (2018) Erivio landed the plum role of Underground Railroad warrior Harriet Tubman in this long-overdue film about the American hero. Kari Lemmons directs, so expect this to be very special. Insiders claim Erivio nails the character.
RENÉE ZELLWEGER IN JUDY
As iconic Judy Garland, it is said Zellweger is superb but can she erase the memory of Judy Davis as Garland on TV in 2000? I have always liked her as an actress, so I hope so. The trailer is remarkable but a trailer does not a movie make. Still, damned she appears to channel Garland.
NATALIE PORTMAN IN LUCY IN THE SKY
Continuing to evolve as a great actress, Portman is cast here as an astronaut recently back from space who begins to behave erratically. Expect Portman to be heavily campaigned for in this one.
ROSAMUND PIKE IN RADIOACTIVE
As Marie Curie, Pike, a brilliant actress could be a nominee for Best Actress. She deserved to win for Gone Girl (2014) and should have been nominated for Hostiles (2017) and last year for A Private War (2018). Here, she is portraying a much loved historical figure which history has proven, Oscar adores.
SAOIRSE RONAN IN LITTLE WOMEN
In the coveted lead role, expect, because she always does for Ronan to shine. Phenomenally gifted, she is poised to become the greatest actress under thirty of her generation, moving into Streep territory. She deserved the Oscar for Brooklyn (2015), and arguably Lady Bird (2017). Maybe this classic offers her a greater chance? At the centre of a magnificent cast and Oscar-nominated director, Greta Gerwig.
ALFRE WOODARD IN CLEMENCY
This Sundance knockout sees Woodard as a Warden who has watched over the executions of eighteen men. She goes about her job coolly, with little emotion because the law has spoken and justice must prevail. But the upcoming execution reduces her to a mass of emotions and she finds aspects to her character she thought were long gone. A superb actress, Woodard is deserving of attention any time she acts.
AWKWAFINA IN THE FAREWELL
This lovely performance kind of exploded through the summer with quiet force, but those who found the film, it was remarkable. As the granddaughter struggling with her family’s decision not to tell their grandmother she is dying, Awkwafina was a revelation. Confidence, poised and perfectly emotional, she is in the mix if the studio supports her.
JODIE TURNER-SMITH IN QUEEN AND SLIM
As the other half of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, who hit the road after killing a monstrous cop who insults and assaults them for little reason. On the run, she will fall in love and find out who she is. Could be a stunner.
MARY KAY PLACE IN DIANE
Released way back in February, it could, if supported earn this veteran actress her first-ever nomination. Known best for The Big Chill (1983) she was superb in this tiny little Indy, reminding all of her formidable talents. What a lovely surprise if she is nominated.
SCARLETT JOHNSSON IN MARRIAGE STORY
Badly underestimated as an actress for years now, her work opposite Adam Driver could be her ticket to the race. Expect profoundly honest dialogue and a deeply authentic study of a couple as they navigate the highs and lows of marriage.
HONG CHAU IN AMERICAN WOMAN
So good in Downsizing (2017), for which she deserved a nomination as the beating heart of the film, look for Chau to be in the mix this year as the babysitter of a kidnap victim. Based loosely on the Patty Hearst kidnapping and hostage-taking. Count me a huge fan of this fine
LUPITA N’YONGO IN US
If they can remember back to the winter months just after the New Year, Oscar Winner N’Yongo might make the top five, though that is rare for a horror film. I kind of wonder what the fuss is about but millions agree.
KATE WINSLET IN BLACKBIRD
Never count out the great Kate. My God, she won for one of her lesser performances in the same year she gave one of her best! Often nominated, more than deserving often, she portrays a terminally ill mother trying to bring her family together for one more Christmas. Grab the Kleenex.
One of Canada’s best-known film critics, he spent 10 years on TV as co-host of Reel to Real, and another 10 in education (still writing as a critic) as Director of the Toronto Film School, where he created the curriculum for three programs and taught film history. Film has always been his passion. He has written for magazines such as Toronto Life, Fashion and Hollywood North, been quoted in the Los Angeles and New York Times, as well as the major Toronto dailies. Online he has written for such sites as The Wrap, In Contention, Awards Circuit and The Cinemaholic. His first book Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker, was published in 2010. His second Steven Spielberg: American Film Visionary, a massive volume, has just found a publisher and he’s working on American Film Renaissance – 1967-2018 with Nick Maylor. As a critic, he has had the good fortune to interview directors and stars such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Emma Stone, Jane Fonda, and countless others. As he quips, “Everyone but Jack Nicholson!”