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Friday, February 16, 2018

The 90th Academy Awards: Best Actress

About November or so the Best Actress race looked promising to be suspenseful. But, as so often happens, the precursors have suggested that the vote has coalesced around one nominee, and this year that nominee is Frances McDormand, for her fierce portrayal of a woman enraged by the lack of progress of the investigation of her daughter's killer in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The nominees were easy to predict this year, and only Meryl Streep, as Katherine Graham in The Post, could be immediately x-ed out, because she's already won three times. Maybe she'll win a fourth, as Katharine Hepburn did, but not this year.

The other three nominees had some juice, but that seems to be all squeezed out now. Saorsie Ronan won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical, but her film, Lady Bird, has been shut down ever since. Margot Robbie was thought to be a possible spoiler for her turn as Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, but there is no evidence to put forward a prediction for her win. And Sally Hawkins, as the mute cleaning woman who falls in love with a sea monster in The Shape of Water, figured to have a better chance because: she's in the Best Picture front-runner, and she doesn't speak. Oscar has a fascination for silent performances.

McDormand, who won twenty years for Fargo, just will not be denied. I can't quite put my finger on why. I suppose of the five she does the most acting, getting big scenes and plenty of opportunity for Oscar clips. This group of actresses, aside from Ronan, are unusually old (two women sixty or over) so perhaps that's a factor--this category has a history of anointing ingenues (three of the last five winners were in their twenties) so maybe this is a course correction.

As I wrote in the Best Supporting Actor post, the racial blowback against Three Billboards has not seemed to affect the actors. I would be very surprised if McDormand doesn't win. I'm pulling for Ronan or Robbie, though. But all five are worthy.

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