Sally Hawkins "The Shape of Water"
Frances McDormand "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Margot Robbie "I, Tonya"
Emma Stone "Battle of the Sexes"
Meryl Streep "The Post"
Other Contenders - Kate Winslet "Wonder Wheel", Saoirse Ronan "Lady Bird", Jessica Chastain "Molly's Game", Judi Dench "Victoria and Abdul", Annette Bening "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool", Michelle Williams "All the Money in the World", Carey Mulligan "Mudbound", Daniela Vega "A Fantastic Woman", Gal Gadot "Wonder Woman", Diane Kruger "In the Fade", Claire Foy "Breathe", Jennifer Lawrence "mother!", Salma Hayek "Beatriz at Dinner", Debra Winger "The Lovers", Helen Mirren "The Leisure Seeker", Jane Fonda "Our Souls at Night", Charlize Theron "Atomic Blonde", Isabelle Huppert "Happy End"
Commentary - This race is packed this year, and it will take a while to really sort out the top five. First, we have to make room for the obligatory Meryl Streep slot. Sometimes she does make it in, but she does more than she doesn't, and I discounted her last year for most of the season and I was wrong. Plus she is pairing up with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Sounds like Oscar gold. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri's Toronto prize is a big deal, and previous winner Frances McDormand is ripe for an Oscar comeback. Despite being a mute performance, I think the power and popularity of Shape of Water, and her performance, will put Sally Hawkins back into the Oscar race for the first time since Blue Jasmine. Margot Robbie has been on the verge of Oscar for years now, and her role in I, Tonya has been earning raves. Finally, while a lot of Oscar prognosticators have written off Battle of the Sexes as a "crowd-pleaser", that is exactly why I am keeping it in a lot of these races. It is the kind of feel-good film like Hidden Figures last year, that wins the hearts of voters. Emma Stone is last year's winner, is fantastic as Billie Jean King, in a film I think Oscar voters will love. I say she earns her third nomination. Beyond those five though are some potent contenders. Kate Winslet is apparently fantastic in Wonder Wheel, although early reviews have been mixed. Saoirse Ronan earned raves out of the fests for Lady Bird, Jessica Chastain sizzles in Molly's Game, Annette Bening is the reason to watch Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, and Judi Dench is, well, Judi Dench. Those only make my top ten, and there are still plenty of names to think about. Gal Gadot deserves some love for Wonder Woman, Carey Mulligan is still searching for that second Oscar nomination, Michelle Williams is overdue, and names like Diane Kruger, Claire Foy, Jennifer Lawrence, Jane Fonda, Isabelle Huppert, and Debra Winger will inspire support.