OSCAR BREAKDOWN: Best Actress 2017
The “Best Actress in a Leading Role” category is my absolute favorite of all the Oscar nominations because unlike the “Best Actor” category that I often find to be predictable, “Best Actress” has often had some very controversial twists and surprises and while I’ve been able to predict the actual winner in this category for several years now, I am very excited about this year’s list of nominees because I can’t remember a time when the race was so tight for this category. We have some acting veterans being recognized for their work and also a couple newcomers to this category.
Now I am going to list my personal choice for the Best Actress Academy Award of 2017, starting with my least likely to win to my favorite performance. At the end of this post, I will share who I think the Academy will select to win the award this year.
So let’s get to it! Starting with…
Predicted to be a huge awards contender before Oscar season, Steven Spielberg’s political drama surprisingly only managed to grab two Academy Award nominations, one for Best Picture and, you guessed it, Best Actress. It saddens me to put such a talent like Streep at 5th place in my list of predictions but I blame the Academy as I think they are now no longer looking at what Streep is delivering on screen, but more so trying to make a joke out of it so the viewing public can go, “Oh, her again!”
This is in no way to discredit Streep’s performance as publisher Katharine Graham. In this role, Streep eats up every moment and once again proves why she is at the top of the list of cinema’s greatest actresses. This is Meryl’s 21st Oscar nomination, making her the most nominated actor in history (she beat the record several nominations ago). But with such strong competition this year, I am not expecting Streep to take home her 4th trophy, though I do expect her to win again one day, maybe on her 22nd nomination…next year.
Please check out my “Top 10 Lists” where you will see my list ranking my Top 10 Meryl Streep performances.
The Shape of Water
Occasionally an actor may be challenged with the task of taking on a non-speaking role. While this might seem like it would be easier to handle than having to remember lines, it is far more demanding of a task for they must make us feel the words they are trying to express. And Hawkins does just that in Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy drama “The Shape of Water.” As a mute custodian who works in a laboratory and develops a passionate friendship with an amphibious creature, Sally Hawkins shows us a more demure and vulnerable side to her craft and not for a moment do we lose sight of what she is trying to express because she encompasses the elements of what the story is all about which is acceptance and understanding.
With 13 nominations, “The Shape of Water” has garnered the most attention this year and is expected to take home many awards and many experts predict Hawkins will walk away with the trophy. Currently, she resides at number 4 in my list simply because this year’s competition is far more tough than usual. If we are looking at statistics, Sally Hawkins stands a good chance of winning the Best Actress Oscar this year. In previous years, the Academy has awarded non-speaking roles in film to several actors. This includes Jane Wyman for “Johnny Belinda” in 1948, Patty Duke for “The Miracle Worker” in 1962, John Mills for “Ryan’s Daughter” in 1970, Marlee Matlin (who in real life is deaf) for “Children of a Lesser God” in 1986, Holly Hunter for “The Piano” in 1993, and Jean Dujardin for “The Artist” in 2011.
Here is a girl who is a major threat. She is 23 years old and has now landed her 3rd Oscar nomination! Saoirse received her first nomination in 2007 in the Supporting Actress category for her performance in “Atonement,” then again, this time, Leading in 2015 for “Brooklyn.” Now, this Irish American actress is being recognized in the highly acclaimed coming of age film, “Lady Bird.” Saoirse plays a high school senior living in Sacramento who calls herself Lady Bird. The film centers around her dysfunctional relationship with her mother as she tries to accomplish her goals, as odd as they may be.
Ronan truly delivered in this film, portraying a character that really resonates with youth today. The past few years, the Academy has begun to acknowledge coming of age films and “Lady Bird” is a heavily female dominated film (including the Director, Greta Gerwig) which says a lot currently with the “Me Too” movement. Saoirse did manage to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture- Musical or Comedy for her performance in “Lady Bird.” Last year’s Golden Globe recipient, Emma Stone, ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Actress. With this being Ronan’s third Oscar nomination, it might be time she gets to hold that statue, and it’s another opportunity for everyone watching to hear her name pronounced correctly (Ser-Scha).
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mildred Hayes is every mother who didn’t get the justice they knew was deserved. She pales at intimidating figures because she knows she has nothing to lose. Frances McDormand takes a character that could have easily been very sappy and overreaching and plays Mildred in a way only she can, with a hardness, an ounce of sensitivity, and sarcastic humor. This is THE performance of McDormand’s career and while she is my number 2 choice for Best Actress, I am very confident that she will be the recipient of the award this year.
Over the past few years, the Academy has given out awards that often tie in with controversial topics of the time. With the “Me Too” and “Times Up!” movement, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a visual representation of the injustice many women have faced, and it speaks to a lot of people who have dealt with abuse without any resolve and I would love to see Frances McDormand, as well as the ensemble cast be recognized for their work in this film. Frances McDormand did win the Golden Globe for Best Actress in Motion Picture Drama for her work in this film and something tells me she will be winning her 2nd Academy Award with this role.
I was first introduced to Margot Robbie through her breakout role in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street” and I remember being shocked at the lack of awards recognition she received. I began to wonder if perhaps people were more focused on her visual appeal and less attentive to her ability as an actress. But over the years, Margot Robbie has proven she is one of Hollywood’s most well-rounded and versatile stars. And finally, after years of waiting, Margot Robbie has finally received her first Oscar nomination for her illuminating performance in “I, Tonya.”
Those of you who follow my blog know that I will go on and on about my love for this film. And a major part of my admiration for this movie goes to Margot who completely transforms into Tonya Harding and delivers my favorite performance of the year. I wish the Academy had the guts to give her the Oscar, but I am about 99.9% sure that will not happen. But in my opinion, Margot Robbie is THE Best Actress winner of 2017. If you haven’t seen “I, Tonya,” please check out my review of the film here on my blog and GO SEE IT.
So to recap, here is my personal ranking for Best Actress:
Best Actress 2017 – Margot Robbie for I, Tonya
2nd - Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
3rd - Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird
4th - Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water
5th - Meryl Streep for The Post
And here is how I think the Academy will vote:
Best Actress 2017 – Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
2nd - Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water
3rd - Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird
4th - Margot Robbie for I, Tonya
5th - Meryl Streep for The Post