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2019 Oscars: Best Actress Predictions

We size up this year's Oscar contenders. Updated 11/7/18.

Lady Gaga, "A Star Is Born"

Lady Gaga in “A Star Is Born”

Warner Bros./YouTube

Breaking out of Sundance, Netflix-produced Tamara Jenkins drama “Private Life” (Metascore: 81) stars Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a couple struggling with a midlife infertility crisis. They turn to their beloved niece (Kayli Carter) to consider donating some of her eggs to the cause, to the horror of her mother (Molly Shannon). Netflix is mounting a fall festival break for awards season, complete with 21 day-and-date theater bookings.

Carey Mulligan appears in <i>Wildlife</i> by Paul Dano, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Carey Mulligan in “Wildlife

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Wash Westmoreland’s “Colette” (Metascore: 74) is an arthouse natural picked up by Bleecker Street (partnering with 30West). The charming British-accented biopic stars two-time Oscar nominee Keira Knightley as a smart young French beauty plucked from the country in Burgundy to marry a sophisticated older Parisian, womanizer Henri Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West). She ghostwrites his “Willy” potboilers for him until she eventually grows into her own identity as a woman writer (“Gigi,” “Cheri”), stage performer and lover of women. Knightley and West are both superb in the well-mounted period movie, which could ignite long-term interest.


Actor Paul Dano’s directorial debut “Wildlife” (Metascore: 82) is a ’60s dysfunctional family tale preserved in amber and observed by the 14-year-old son (Australian discovery Ed Oxenbould) of unhappy, unfulfilled parents (Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan, who gives an awards-worthy performance). The bleak drama (IFC) got a boost from its berth in the Cannes Directors Fortnight.



Also giving standout Sundance performances were Charlize Theron as a depressed new mother in Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman’s well-reviewed “Tully” (Focus Features), a more sympathetic follow-up to “Young Adult,” which also floundered at the box office. Toni Collette is another sort of beleaguered mom in horror entry “Heredity” (A24), which could be limited by its genre.

“Mary, Queen of Scots”

There’s also Glenn Close’s strong performance in fall hit “The Wife” (Sony Pictures Classics), Felicity Jones’ chance at a second Oscar nomination as the young future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Mimi Leder’s drama “On the Basis of Sex” (December 25, Focus Features), newcomer Kiki Layne in the next film from “Moonlight” Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Annapurna), Saoirse Ronan in the title role “Mary, Queen of Scots” (December 7, Focus Features), and Olivia Colman as crazy Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’ 18th-century court drama “The Favourite” (November 23, Fox Searchlight).

Oscar perennial Viola Davis could carry weight in Steve McQueen thriller “Widows” (November 16, Fox), Emily Blunt takes the Julie Andrews role opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Mary Poppins Returns” (Disney), Lady Gaga follows such singer-actresses as Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand in “A Star is Born” (October 5, Warner Bros.) and Melissa McCarthy incarnates a real-life novelist/con-artist in dramedy “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (October 18, Fox Searchlight).

roma cuaron


Alfonso Cuaron’s autobiographical upstairs-downstairs drama “Roma” stars warmly empathetic pre-school teacher Yalitza Aparicio as the hard-working nanny to a sprawling middle-class family in Mexico City; she could follow the likes of Harold Russell (“The Best Years of Our Lives”) and Haing S. Ngor (“The Killing Fields”) as a first-time performer who wins the Oscar.

Debuting quietly at Toronto but building critical support is Matthew Heineman’s “A Private War” (November 2, Aviron) starring Oscar-nominee Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) as fearless war correspondent Marie Colvin. She could gain traction if enough people see the movie to move the needle with critics groups and SAG.


And Oscar perennial Nicole Kidman (Best Actress winner for “The Hours”) is never to be underestimated. She plays a hardboiled cop with a questioning daughter who tries to reckon with mistakes she made in her past in Karyn Kusama’s elegantly wrought “Destroyer” (Annapurna).

Remember, no movie will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen it. Lists are in alphabetical order.




Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”)
Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)

Dolly Wells as "Anna" and Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" in the film CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? Photo by Mary Cybulski. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Photo by Mary Cybulski


Toni Collette (“Hereditary”)
Viola Davis (“Widows”)
Felicity Jones (“On the Basis of Sex”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Keira Knightley (“Colette”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)
Saiorse Ronan (“Mary, Queen of Scots”)

"Private Life" starring Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti

“Private Life”


Long Shots

Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins”)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Kindergarten Teacher”)
Kathryn Hahn (“Private Life”)
Kiki Layne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Carey  Mulligan (“Wildlife”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)

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