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2019 Oscars: Best Actress Predictions

We take an early look at this year's Oscar contenders.


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 plans a fall festival break for the movie as an awards season launch.

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 a conventional arthouse play, predictably picked up by Bleecker Street (partnering with 30West). The charming British-accented biopic stars 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: 83) 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 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.

Breaking out at Cannes was Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz in Asghar Farhadi’s Spanish-language melodrama “Everybody Knows,” costarring Javier Bardem, which played well opening night and was scooped up by Focus Features.

“Mary, Queen of Scots”

There’s also good word on Glenn Close in “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” (Focus Features), newcomer Kiki Layne in the next film from Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Annapurna), Saoirse Ronan vs. Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I in “Mary, Queen of Scots” (Focus Features), Claire Foy as the wife of astronaut Neil Armstrong in “First Man” (Universal) and Emma Stone in Yorgos Lanthimos’ 18th-century Queen Anne court drama “The Favourite” (Fox Searchlight).

Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns”

Walt Disney Pictures

Other Oscar perennials Cate Blanchett (“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”) and Viola Davis (“Widows”) will carry weight too. Emily Blunt takes the Julie Andrews role opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Mary Poppins Returns” (Disney), Melissa McCarthy incarnates a real-life novelist/con-artist in dramedy “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and hard-working Sebastián Lelio (Oscar-winner “A Fantastic Woman”) offers two movies with strong roles for women: Julianne Moore in the English-language remake of “Gloria” and Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz in lesbian romance “Disobedience.”

For once, Meryl Streep is out of the Best Actress race this year; she’s got two Supporting Actress possibilities in sequels “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”

Remember, no movie will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen it.


Toni Collette (“Hereditary”)
Penelope Cruz (“Everybody Knows”)
Keira Knightley (“Colette”)
Carey  Mulligan (“Wildlife”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)


Felicity Jones (“On the Basis of Sex”)
Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Cate Blanchett (“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”)
Viola Davis (“Widows”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Saiorse Ronan (“Mary, Queen of Scots”)
Emma Stone (“The Favourite”)

"Private Life" starring Kathryn Hahn and Paul Giamatti

“Private Life”


Long Shots

Annette Bening (“The Seagull”)
Kathryn Hahn (“Private Life”)
Kiki Layne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Julianne Moore (“Gloria”)
Rachel Weisz (“Disobedience,” “The Favourite”)

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