The Best Actress race is one of the most competitive at this year’s Oscars with one past champ and two previous nominees facing off against a previous supporting contender and a newcomer. While 25 of the 30 Oscarologists polled by Gold Derby predict Viola Davis will prevail, the five naysayers are notable pundits: Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Tariq Khan (Fox News,) Richard Rushfield (Daily Beast), Kevin Polowy (NextMovie) and Kevin Lewin (WENN). See all experts’ forecasts here.
Viola Davis won Tony Awards for performances in the August Wilson plays “King Hedley II” and “Fences.” While she also appeared in films, it wasn’t until her one scene in the 2008 screen adapation of the Tony-winning play “Doubt” that she received recognition from the academy with a supporting nomination. Her Best Actress bid for her performance in Best Picture nominee “The Help” ties her with Whoopi Goldberg as the only African American women to contend twice at the Oscars. And she also has several strong scenes in another Best Picture contender, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” Davis lost the Golden Globe and BAFTA to Meryl Streep but won the BFCA and SAG prizes.
Six of the last 10 winners of this race have played real-life women. In “The Iron Lady,” Meryl Streep, portrays British PM Margaret Thatcher. This is her 14th nomination in this category (and 17th overall) but she has prevailed in this race just once — “Sophie’s Choice” (1982). While she is considered long overdue for a second win (she also has a supporting Oscar for “Kramer vs. Kramer,” 1979), the so-so reviews for the film may hurt her.
Michelle Williams was lauded for her performance as screen icon Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn.” She won the Golden Globe for Comedy/Musical Actress as Monroe had done in 1959 for “Some Like It Hot,” but that is probably the only prize she will claim.
Glenn Close racked up five Oscar bids in just seven years in the 1980s. After a 23-year gap, she earned her sixth nomination (and third for Best Actress) for “Albert Nobbs.” In this labor of love, she masquerades as an Irish man. Given the strong competition, she is likely to join Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter as record six-time also-rans.
Rooney Mara underwent an physical transformation to play a pierced and tattooed hacker in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” She was a surprise nominee in this category as she had been snubbed at the SAG Awards.
Click on the pundits below to see a breakdown of their rankings in this race.
Click on each of the categories below for the overview of that race.