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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The 89th Academy Awards, Best Actress

In the Best Actress category, there is yet another lead-pipe cinch. Emma Stone, even before La La Land's release, was the favorite to win, and survived some other women mentioned. When the dust has settled, though, she is still the overwhelming favorite.

Why? The actress is extremely likable, and though young (28) that is not a problem in this category--she's older than last year's winner, Brie Larson. She has also been nominated before, and she does something that most performers are deadly afraid of putting on film--singing and dancing.

During the last few months there was noise about Natalie Portman winning again for Jackie. It is a wonderful performance, but she has won before and the film didn't get the traction that some thought it might--it's only other nomination is in costumes. That Portman didn't win the Golden Globe is telling.

That award went to Isabelle Huppert, who might be Stone's main competition. There have been only two wins by a Best Actress in a foreign language film, but Huppert certainly has the goods as a woman with revenge on her mind in Elle. There might be something of a career-award sentiment, although most Americans don't know who she is (she's made over sixty films).

In the don't bother writing a speech category there is Meryl Streep, with her twentieth nomination for Florence Foster Jenkins. The role is one of great skill, playing a woman is the world's worst singer and feeling intense sympathy for her, but Streep is not likely to win a fourth Oscar for this.

It is notable this year that all four acting categories feature a person of color; in the Best Actress category it's Ruth Negga playing a woman taking anti-miscegenation laws to the Supreme Court in Loving. It's a performance that often isn't nominated, because Negga plays her very quietly, and has no big moment "Oscar-clip" scenes. That probably will ensure that she doesn't win. It's very well possible that three actors of color will win on Oscar night, but not all four.

Will Win: Stone
Could Win: Huppert
Should Win: Stone
Should have been nominated: Amy Adams, Arrival

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