Last year audiences got their first looks at Emma Stone, Brie Larson, Julianne Moore and Jennifer Lawrence’s winning Best Actress performances at the fall film festivals Telluride and Toronto, so the category will come into focus this September. What is clear is that it could be crowded again, like last year, when such worthy contenders as Amy Adams and Annette Bening were shut out.
So far early possibilities include last year’s fall festival breakouts. “Blue Jasmine” Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins gives a heartbreaking performance as real-life arthritic painter Maud Lewis in “Maudie” (Sony Pictures Classics, June 16), which could also feed her mute performance in Guillermo del Toro’s fall festival entry “The Shape of Water” (December 8, Fox Searchlight).
At Sundance, “An Education” nominee Carey Mulligan earned raves as a southern farmer in “Mudbound,” along with Danielle Macdonald as a rapper competing with the boys in “Patti Cake$,” which played well at Sundance and Cannes.
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Cannes 2017 revealed more clues, as Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman (“The Hours”) won a special award for her four films there, including her resilient schoolmistress in Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled.” She could earn a fifth Oscar nomination. Deaf discovery Millicent Simmonds broke out in the silent half of Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck.” And Diane Kruger took home Best Actress for Fatih Akim’s intense revenge thriller “In the Fade” (Magnolia Pictures).
And the ceiling-smashing $103-million opening of Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” pushed Israeli star Gal Gadot — who had already scored in “Batman v. Superman”– into global stardom. She earned raves for the winning warmth she brought to superhero Wonder Woman and human-scale Diana Prince, and could earn a nomination, even though comic-book spectacles don’t tend to extend to acting nods.
Kate Winslet also has dual roles, in survival drama “The Mountain Between Us” opposite Idris Elba (October 6, Fox) and Woody Allen’s New York Film Festival closer “Wonder Wheel” (December 1, Amazon Studios), which could reveal whether Winslet could enjoy the same kind of awards season run that Cate Blanchett had in the lead-up to her “Blue Jasmine” win. Stephen Frears directs Dame Judi Dench as an aged Queen of England in “Victoria and Abdul” (September 22, Focus Features). And the combo of Meryl Streep and Steven Spielberg in Watergate drama “The Papers” (Fox, December 22) could yield Oscar gold.
Sony Pictures Classics picked up Paul McGuigan’s TIFF gala premiere “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool,” starring Annette Bening as Hollywood star Gloria Grahame, who in 1978 plunged into an affair with a younger lover (Jamie Bell). Oscar voters now get a chance to make up for leaving Bening out last year.
A list of possibilities is below. None will be considered for Frontrunner until I see them.
Judi Dench (“Victoria and Abdul”)
Sally Hawkins (“Maudie”)
Nicole Kidman (“The Beguiled”)
Carey Mulligan (“Mudbound”)
Millicent Simmonds (“Wonderstruck”)
Annette Bening (“Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool”)
Jessica Chastain (“Zookeeper’s Wife,” “Molly’s Game”)
Claire Foy (“Breathe”)
Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”)
Sally Hawkins (“The Shape Of Water”)
Salma Hayak (“Beatriz at Dinner”)
Diane Kruger (“In the Fade”)
Jennifer Lawrence (“Mother!”)
Danielle Macdonald (“Patti Cake$”)
Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri”)
Rooney Mara (“Mary Magdalene”)
Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”)
Emma Stone (“Battle of The Sexes”)
Meryl Streep (“The Papers”)
Daniela Vega (“A Fantastic Woman”)
Katherine Waterston (“The Current War”)
Kristen Wiig (“Downsizing”)
Kate Winslet (“The Mountain Between Us,” “Wonder Wheel”)