Inside the Battle Royale for Best Actress at the Academy Awards

By their very nature, awards shows are designed to take away, with few exceptions, from the glory of receiving a nomination.

Still, this year’s Academy Award race for Best Actress is so packed with contenders that I’m willing to comb through the Academy’s academic statutes to come up with a workaround. Is five slots really enough to grace this massive field? Can’t we swipe over in the Best Actor category, at least?

The truth is, even 10 slots would barely scratch the surface of what the Best Actress race has to offer. Many of the season’s most iconic films, such as “Tár” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” gave some of the best career roles to their leading ladies, even though only one woman could take home an Oscar. Meanwhile, a slew of up-and-coming actresses who play against type and underdogs who deserve a second look will simply be vying to make it to the Final Five. Here are the women competing in this season’s hottest category.

In the fictional world of “Tár”, he plays the conniving conductor of the orchestra Cate Blanchett He was showered with an absurd amount of prizes. By the end of this season, Blanchett may catch up with her character.

Courage’s two-time Academy Award-winning performance — She Learns German, Orchestra Performs on the Piano — has won her most notable accolades to date: In addition to nominations from the Golden Globe Awards, Critics’ Choice Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and Gotham Awards, Blanchett won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress in Venice Film Festival and a pair of leading awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The last time Blanchett triumphed with critics’ groups on both coasts, she was on her way to winning her second Oscar for “Blue Jasmine.”

If she wins the third, the 53-year-old will be the youngest woman to reach the milestone. (Meryl Streep, Frances McDormand, and Ingrid Bergman are the only other actresses to win three Academy Awards each for their performances, while Katharine Hepburn holds the record with four.) He has not yet been nominated and is seeking a historic win.

Michelle Yeoh She came close to securing a supporting actress nomination for Crazy Rich Asians (2018), but this time, it’s undeniable: the 60-year-old’s lead role in Everything Everywhere at Once, as an ordinary woman who becomes The last hope of the multiverse, Yeoh should earn her first Oscar nod.

The role shows off everything Yeoh is capable of — including her athleticism, nuanced action, and sense of humor — and she’s torn apart in interviews while discussing how rare a film like this is for an Asian actress. At a recent awards roundtable, Yeoh told the other actresses, “I honestly look at you all with envy because you get the chance to try out for all the different roles, but we only get this chance maybe once in a while.” In fact, no woman has won. She won the Best Actress award, and after 94 ceremonies, Halle Berry remains the only winner of color in the category for “Monster’s Ball.”

Can Yeoh achieve a historic victory? It would help that she had a more sympathetic take on the character: while Blanchett’s Lydia Tár persuades and confuses in equal measure, Yeoh’s Evelyn Wang learns to let her guard down and let love in. But competition in this category is fierce, and Blanchett’s is not. The only heavyweight you’ll face.

To play a character based on Steven Spielberg’s mother in “The Fabelmans,” Michelle Williams She will likely receive her fifth Academy Award nomination, which puts her behind Glenn Close and Amy Adams as the three actresses who have been nominated more than once without winning. This gives Williams a powerful narrative for “She’s Due” that could grab the votes of both Blanchett and Yeoh; It also helps that she gives it her all, playing a hilarious woman whose spirit can’t be contained by her marriage.

star “even” Daniel Didwiller She won the first performance trophy of the season at the Gotham Awards last month, and she’ll need that momentum to weather incredible snubs from Independent Spirits and the Golden Globes. Still, her emotionally nuanced performance as Emmett Till’s mother holds appropriate Oscar weight, as voters are often drawn to an actor playing a historical figure.

It’s rare for Oscar voters to make a spot for an action hero in the Best Actress category: Although Sigourney Weaver earned a nomination for “Aliens,” Charlize Theron found no appeal for Mad Max: Fury Road. But there is more to it than that Viola Davis He does in “The Woman King” by simply using a spear. Her fierce warriors are weary and her battle cries pack a cathartic punch. If the movie is able to make it to the Best Picture lineup, Davis should be swept.

Damien Chazelle’s bawdy Hollywood drama “Papillon” garnered wildly mixed reviews, but the director helmed two Oscar-winning performances — Emma Stone in “La La Land” and JK Simmons in “Whiplash” — and has pushed that pedigree Margot Robbie In vying for her role as a fledgling actress convinced of her star quality. Nominations for “I, Tonya” and “Bombshell” prove voters like Robbie are in serious aspirational mode, even though the movie is so packed with characters that she can’t quite dominate the proceedings like some of her Best Actress contenders.

Can two Oscar favorites beat silent broadcast firings in a year when theatrical contenders reigned supreme? “Good luck to you, Leo Grande” hand Emma Thompson A sexually explicit spinoff wowed Oscar critics at the Sundance Film Festival in January, but the film’s quiet June debut on Hulu drew less than headlines. And despite winning Best Picture this year for “CODA,” Apple TV+ still struggled to get all the viewers of “Ted Lasso” and “Severance” to watch exclusives like “Causeway,” even though the film has the style of Strong, – lead performance essentials from Jennifer Lawrence.

At least “Blonde” managed to make its streaming debut that got people talking, though the punishing Netflix drama about Marilyn Monroe had some very vocal detractors. could her star, Ana de Armas, The rise above those ponds? It’s earned a Golden Globe nomination, at least, and Oscar voters would love to feature an accomplished up-and-coming character, but the movie is going to prove to be a sticky situation in a year with plenty of better-received choices.

In the first hour of “Empire of Light”, Olivia Colman He plays a movie theater worker who opens herself up to a glitzy romance, but in the second, the character goes off her meds and the movie goes off the rails. Even if those two halves don’t quite come together, Colman certainly gets some big moments to play, and the actress is quickly becoming an Oscar mainstay (over the past four years, she’s been nominated three times and won once) should she consider a permanent choice for the final five.

Rooney Mara She has verve and sensibility in “Women Talking,” but the studio’s decision to cast her as a lead actress is weak: In this ensemble drama about conflicted Mennonite women, Mara hardly has more screen time than Claire Foy or Jessie Buckley, who are hired as competing supporting actresses. Then again, Mara is no stranger to the high junk category: Six years ago, she was nominated as a supporting actress for “Carol,” even though she was clearly playing that film’s hero.

If memes on social media can count as trophies, Mia Goth It’s sure to give Blanchett a run for her money: The young actress’s work on “Pearl,” in which she plays a farm girl killing for stardom, has flooded Twitter with gothic GIFs. Ti West’s technicolor horror drama isn’t the kind Oscar voters usually opt for, but Goth is eerily committed, putting up a tour de force, and an eight-minute monologue topped only by a sustained closing shot of the actress smiling until she. screams. At the very least, you’ll make one unforgettable Oscar clip.

It is my hope that as membership of the Academy grows more internationally than ever before, more strong performances in languages ​​other than English will be recognized. In Park Chan-wook’s South Korean movie “Decision to Leave”, Tang Wei She is a wonderful femme fatale, while Lea Seydou She gives her best work as a single mother in the French drama One Fine Morning. Oscar voters regret the snub Vicky Krebs For “Phantom Thread” she can fit in by checking out the royal drama “Corsage,” in which she plays Empress Elisabeth of Austria with deceptive irreverence.

Comedian actresses are often underrated by Oscar voters, however Aubrey Plaza She spent 2022 proving she’s capable of more: Fans of her breakout performance in HBO’s “The White Lotus” should check out her dark, suspenseful work in the drama “Emily the Criminal,” which earned nominations from Gothams and Indie Spirits. And “No,” which topped our A.O. Scott critic’s list of best films of the year, boasts a charismatic star Keke Palmer which recently picked up a win from the New York Film Critics Circle, even if the group had to pretend it delivered a supporting performance to get it out of the way of Blanchett’s groundbreaking win. Normally, I wouldn’t encourage this kind of category fraud, but in this busy year, I sympathize with wanting to bend a few rules.

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