Oscar experts predict Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan (‘Lady Bird’) coming on strong against Frances McDormand (‘Three Billboards’)

In the 2018 Oscar race for Best Actress, frontrunner Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) faces a strong challenge from Saoirse Ronan, who is piling up critics awards for her performance in “Lady Bird.” In this acclaimed character study by first-time solo director Greta Gerwig, she embodies the title character: Christine “Lady Bird” Macpherson, a teenager looking to spread her wings.

Ronan, who lost her Oscar bids for “Atonement” (2007) and “Brooklyn” (2015), could have the edge here. Remember, the Best Actress Oscar is usually awarded to an ingenue, unlike the Best Actor prize which is typically taken by a veteran. Indeed, a whopping 32 of the 89 Best Actress winners were in their 20s when they picked up their prizes, including last year’s winner Emma Stone (“La La Land”).

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McDormand headlines Martin McDonagh‘s character study, which won the audience award at the Toronto film festival. She plays a grieving mother who tries to shame the local police chief (Woody Harrelson) into investigating the murder of her daughter. McDonagh, a Tony-nominated playwright, won the Best Live Action Short Oscar in 2004 for “Six Shooter.” McDormand numbers just a single Best Actress bid among her four Oscar nominations but it was the one that proved to be the winner (“Fargo,” 1996).

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As of this writing, Ronan has the backing of seven of our 26 Experts who are drawn from major media (see rankings). McDormand has 13 votes and Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”), who won Best Actress from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., has five experts in her corner.

Ronan also has the support of three of the Gold Derby Editors (see rankings) as well as three of our Top 24 Users (who had the best scores predicting Oscar noms at Gold Derby last year) and five of the Top 24 All Stars (who had the best scores over the past two years). And of the 4,800 plus regular users making predictions at Gold Derby, Ronan has the votes of 650 people.

Here’s how the Oscar Best Actress predictions break down by expert as well as the most up-to-date odds for each of the top 10 contenders to win:

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1. Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”: 13 experts (5/2 odds)
Thelma Adams (Gold Derby)
Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post)
Tariq Khan (Fox News)
Andrea Mandell (USA Today)
Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood)
Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby)
Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly)
Keith Simanton (IMDB)
Brian Truitt (USA Today)
Sara Vilkomerson (Entertainment Weekly)
Adnan Virk (ESPN)
Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times)
Susan Wloszczyna (RogetEbert.com)

2. Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”: 7 experts (10/3 odds)
Joyce Eng (TV Guide)
Dave Karger (IMDB)
Jack Mathews (Gold Derby)
Kevin Polowy (Yahoo)
Krista Smith (Vanity Fair)
Sasha Stone (Awards Daily)
Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere)

2. Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”: 5 experts (7/2 odds)
Erik Davis (Fandango)
Edward Douglas (Tracking Board)
Tim Gray (Variety)
Michael Musto (NewNowNext)
Anne Thompson (Indiewire)

4. Meryl Streep, “The Post”: One expert (6/1 odds)
Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)

5. Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”: (12/1 odds)

6. Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”: (16/1 odds)

7. Judi Dench, “Victoria and Abdul” (33/1 odds)

8. Kate Winslet, “Wonder Wheel”: (80/1 odds)

9. Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”: (80/1 odds)

10. Daniel Vega, “A Fantastic Woman”: (80/1 odds)

2018 Oscars Best Actress: Experts Predictions

Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.

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