Among this year’s leading Oscar contenders in Best Actress is Judi Dench, once again taking on the role of Queen Victoria (a part that scored her an Oscar nomination for 1997’s “Mrs. Brown”), this time in Stephen Frears‘ “Victoria & Abdul.” The picture focuses on the friendship between the Queen and Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a young clerk who ventures from India to partake in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Their surprising alliance is frowned upon by the Queen’s inner circle, determined to tear the two apart.
Should Dench, who took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), reap a Best Actress bid as we are predicting, she will be the seventh such nominee from a Frears film.
The first was Glenn Close for portraying the conniving Marquise de Merteuil in “Dangerous Liaisons” (1988). The film achieved success on Oscar night, taking home prizes in Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. However Close, then on her fifth nomination, was not among the winners. She fell short to Jodie Foster, picking up her first Oscar for “The Accused.”
Two years later, it was Anjelica Huston scoring a Best Actress Oscar nomination as veteran con artist Lily Dillon in “The Grifters” (1990). While Huston, on her third Oscar nomination, won Best Actress honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and National Society of Film Critics, it would be Kathy Bates (“Misery”) securing the golden statue.
In 2005 Dench’s portrayal of wily widow Laura Henderson in “Mrs. Henderson Presents” earned her her fifth Oscar nomination. She was bested at the Oscars by Reese Witherspoon (“Walk the Line”).
In 2006, Frears at last delivered an Oscar win for his leading lady. For her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in the days following Princess Diana‘s death in “The Queen,” Helen Mirren swept the awards season, picking up a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and BAFTA Award, plus a plethora of critics’ prizes and, of course, the Oscar.
Dench again scored awards season glory for a Frears film with her Best Actress nomination as Philomena Lee, an Irish woman on a five-decade search for her son, in “Philomena” (2013). Now on her seventh Oscar nomination, Dench came up short to Cate Blanchett, picking up her second trophy for “Blue Jasmine.”
Last year, Meryl Streep, earned her 20th career nomination as the ambitious but negligibly talented title character in “Florence Foster Jenkins” (2016). On Oscar night, it was Emma Stone (“La La Land”) emerging victorious for the prize.
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.