First 2019 Predictions
Cate Blanchett "Where'd You Go Bernadette?"
Glenn Close "The Wife"
Viola Davis "Widows"
Saoirse Ronan "Mary, Queen of Scots"
Michelle Williams "Rio"
Other Contenders - Renee Zellweger "Judy", Felicity Jones "On the Basis of Sex", Melissa McCarthy "Can You Ever Forgive Me?", Penelope Cruz "Everybody Knows", Lady Gaga "A Star is Born", Kiki Layne "If Beale Street Could Talk", Emma Stone "The Favourite", Emily Blunt "Mary Poppins Returns", Emily Blunt "A Quiet Place", Chloe Grace Moretz "The Miseducation of Cameron Post", Toni Collette "Hereditary", Kristen Stewart "JT Leroy", Olivia Wilde "Life Itself", Hilary Swank "Where They Had", Natalie Portman "Annihilation", Keira Knightley "Collette", Julianne Moore "Gloria", Judi Dench "Red Joan", Charlize Theron "Tully", Melissa McCarthy "Life of the Party", Elle Fanning "Mary Shelley", Rosamund Pike "Beirut", Rachel McAdams "Game Night", Leslie Mann "Blockers", Amy Schumer "I Feel Pretty", Anna Faris "Overboard", Sandra Bullock "Oceans 8", Constance Wu "Crazy Rich Asians", Anna Kendrick "A Simple Favor", Anne Hathaway "Serenity", Jamie Lee Curtis "Halloween", Claire Foy "The Girl in the Spider's Web"
Commentary - This year's race is stacked with so many previous nominees and winners, I wonder if any newcomers can breakthrough. I am going to start with Saoirse Ronan playing Mary Stuart in Mary, Queen of Scots opposite Margot Robbie. It would be her fourth nomination, and it might be the right time for the Academy to recognize her. Still looking for her Oscar, Glenn Close could score her seventh nomination for The Wife. It is not a big movie, and doesn't have a lot of buzz outside of her performance, but that has actually been a winning formula for overdue veterans lately. Christopher Plummer in Beginners, Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, Julianne Moore in Still Alice. If they can play up the narrative that she has never one, and once again knocks it out of the park, she might finally win an Oscar. Michelle Williams joins Close and Ronan as another overdue vet, this time pairing up with Luca Guadagnino, who has finally got the notice of the Academy, for Rio opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and Benedict Cumberbatch. In the final two slots, I am going with recent winners in buzzed projects. Viola Davis is starring in Widows, Steve McQueen's first big project since 12 Years a Slave. Finally, perennial nominee Cate Blanchett has a great role in Richard Linklater's adaptation of the hugely popular novel Where'd You Go Bernadette. This race though has tons of contenders, and will once again be a tight race, which is fantastic after all those years of not enough quality leading roles for women. Renee Zellweger has been out of this circuit for a long time, but the former Oscar winner is returning playing Judy Garland, while Lady Gaga takes on a role once helmed by Garland herself. Both roles look like Oscar bait, but are going to have to be seen to be believed. Felicity Jones is tackling Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a role that could land her a second nomination. Melissa McCarthy, who is a previous nominee, has a baity dramedy role in Marielle Heller's latest with Nicole Holofcener writing the script. Mostly comedic actors who have tried more dramatic roles have caught the eye of voters before, and this looks intriguing. Penelope Cruz stars in Asghar Farhadi's latest which will premiere at Cannes in a few weeks, Emily Blunt has two major roles in contention, and Life Itself could be the This is Us of Oscars with Hilary Swank and Olivia Wilde as possibilities. Kristen Stewart has been flirting with Oscar since she made the switch from Twilight movies to indies, and actresses like Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, Rachel McAdams, Leslie Mann, Anne Hathaway, Claire Foy, Keira Knightley, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, and Toni Collette are sure to be on people's minds. Finally, Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk could have this year's Oscar breakthrough with Kiki Layne.