Veterans and ingenues vie for Best Actress nominations

According to our Oscarologists, Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady“) is ahead to win Best Actress, with Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs“) and Viola Davis (“The Help“) close behind. But the race to be nominated is much more crowded.

Gold Derby’s Inside Track measures the likelihood of being nominated based on the percentage of pundits who rank a candidate in the top five of her category, and predictably, Streep, Close, and Davis have the lead in that regard as well. Streep already has sixteen career acting nominations, more than any other performer in Oscar history, and she has 1/10 odds of extending that record with a seventeenth bid for her role as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”

Biopics typically do well at the Oscars, but so do gender-bending performances, which bodes well for Close, who plays a woman masquerading as a man in “Albert Nobbs.” She gets 1/5 odds of receiving her sixth career nomination; she has never won. Meanwhile, Davis gets 1/3 odds for her role as a Southern maid in “The Help”; she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress three years ago for “Doubt” and would be only the second black actress in history to earn a second Oscar nomination (after Whoopi Goldberg, who was nominated for “The Color Purple” and then won for “Ghost”).

Two-time nominee Michelle Williams gets 5/6 odds of contending for playing silver-screen icon Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn.” Close behind her, two previous Oscar-winners get 13/5 odds: Charlize Theron for Jason Reitman‘s upcoming comedy “Young Adult” and Tilda Swinton as an anguished mother in “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”

Several ingenues have been nominated in recent years for their breakthrough performances – including Carey Mulligan (“An Education”), Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”), and Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”) – and in keeping with that trend several young women compete this year for their first starring roles: Rooney Mara as goth-punk investigator Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (3/1), Elizabeth Olsen as a girl escaped from a cult in “Martha Marcy May Marlene” (10/3), and Felicity Jones as a lovesick Brit separated from her American boyfriend in “Like Crazy” (9/1). Of those, only Jones has previously been honored for her performance; she won a Special Jury Prize for acting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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Out of the last fifteen winners of Best Actress, only two have been older than 40 (Helen Mirren for “The Queen” and Sandra Bullock for “The Blind Side”), and only six women have ever won over the age of 50 (though Katharine Hepburn pulled off that feat three times). Can veteran stars like Streep, Close, and Davis maintain their lead and overcome the Academy’s longstanding bias, or will they be overtaken by another young starlet?

Think our odds are all wrong? You can help change them by entering your predictions and editing them as the season progresses.

For the complete list of contenders, CLICK HERE. The current rankings are as follows:


1.) Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady” – 1/10
2.) Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs” – 1/5
3.) Viola Davis, “The Help” – 1/3
4.) Michelle Williams, “My Week with Marilyn” – 5/6
5.) Tilda Swinton, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” – 13/5
6.) Charlize Theron, “Young Adult” – 13/5
7.) Rooney Mara, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – 3/1
8.) Elizabeth Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” – 10/3
9.) Kate Winslet, “Carnage” – 6/1
10.) Felicity Jones, “Like Crazy” – 9/1

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