Glenn Close "The Wife"
Olivia Colman "The Favourite"
Viola Davis "Widows"
Lady Gaga "A Star is Born"
Melissa McCarthy "Can You Every Forgive Me?"
Other Contenders - Saoirse Ronan "Mary, Queen of Scots", Felicity Jones "On the Basis of Sex", Carey Mulligan "Wildlife", Emily Blunt "Mary Poppins Returns", Toni Collette "Hereditary", Julia Roberts "Ben is Back", Nicole Kidman "Destroyer", Yalitza Aparicio "Roma", Kiki Layne "If Beale Street Could Talk", Elsie Fisher "Eighth Grade", Charlize Theron "Tully", Emily Blunt "A Quiet Place"
Commentary - This race has two more wild cards that could make it even tighter. At AFI Fest we will finally see if Saoirse Ronan and Felicity Jones are the real deal. We are also still waiting on Emily Blunt in Mary Poppins Returns, the role that won Julie Andrews her Oscar. We know that Toni Collette, Carey Mulligan, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, an Emily Blunt (in A Quiet Place) are fantastic in their roles and all, except Blunt, are Oscar winners or nominees. Newcomers Kiki Layne, Yalitza Aparicio, and Elsie Fisher are hoping to have breakout years. But they are all currently sitting behind five performances. First and foremost is Lady Gaga. She could join the ranks of singers turned actresses like Cher and Jennifer Hudson, who go on to win acting Oscars. She is fantastic in A Star is Born, and the Oscar heat for that movie just keeps building. The Favourite probably still needs to sort out its lead vs. supporting issues, but conventional wisdom is that Colman will go lead, with Stone and Weisz going supporting. Colman is a powerhouse is a film that is getting major buzz. I called it early, and I'm glad I have stuck with Melissa McCarthy. She got raves out of the fest, and we have seen comedians turned serious actors get a lot of love at the Oscars. Finally, I am holding a slot for Viola Davis. I don't know how Widows will play with the Academy, with most folks thinking it is more of an elevated genre blockbuster than an Academy film. I think that it is still in this thing, and they love Viola Davis. Finally, there is Glenn Close. At this point, I do think she will be nominated. However, unlike some folks I am not ready to anoint her quite yet. The film is small and mediocre. She will need a huge campaign, and the narrative of her never winning needs to take hold before this becomes a reality. Can she do it? Of course, and nothing would thrill me more. But I need more proof.