It looked like the Best Actress battle at the Oscars was going to be headed for a photo finish on March 4. Well, all of that changed on Sunday night at the Golden Globes. We needn’t even wait for the nominations to be announced. It’s a done deal. They might as well ship the statuette now, while special holiday rates could still be in effect. Here are five reasons why Frances McDormand is all but certain to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
She delivers the pitch perfect performance.
McDormand’s work in “Three Billboards” is exactly the type of acting that Oscar voters love to reward. It’s a serious role (we know how difficult that it is to be recognized for anything comedic or even slightly lightweight.) She has several extremely dramatic scenes (that poor dentist) combined with many quiet but equally powerful moments. (Knowing how to show restraint is critical; just ask Denzel Washington in “Fences” last year.) And as Gold Derby founder Tom O’Neil always emphasizes, she has that defiance that academy members eat up. (Think Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady,” Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side” and Helen Mirren in “The Queen,” to name a few.) It’s no wonder that McDormand was finally crowned drama queen thespian at the Golden Globes.
She will triumph at the SAG Awards.
It isn’t even a contest. The SAG laurels are decided by actors, and actors are simply MAD about McDormand. Her screen credits span four decades in film and television. She’s respected for both the quality and consistency of her product. Sure, she already has an award for Outstanding Female Actor in a Motion Picture for 1996’s “Fargo,” and no one has ever repeated in this category. But Daniel Day-Lewis has multiple SAG lead trophies. (Three, to be exact.) Is there any rule that a woman can’t do the same? Someone has to be the first, and it’s going to be McDormand. Still not convinced? Remember that McDormand is the only all-American in the category. The other nominees may all be familiar to the SAG society , but McDormand enjoys the home court advantage. Give her the Globe and the SAG, and she’s a virtual slam dunk.
“Three Billboards” is poised to be a major Oscar contender.
There was never any doubt that the film would be a player in this year’s derby. However, it keeps exceeding expectations. Four Golden Globe wins, including Best Motion Picture – Drama? Four SAG nominations, nine BAFTA bids. It’s conceivable that “Three Billboards” will be right behind “The Shape of Water” in its total number of Oscar bids. All this love for “Billboards” will only benefit McDormand when voters fill out their final ballots.
McDormand is “cool” enough for two Academy Awards. In the autumn of 2008, I recall asking O’Neil if Sean Penn could bag Oscar #2 for his well-received turn in “Milk,” just five years after milking his first trophy for “Mystic River.” “Definitely,” O’Neil told me. “He’s like Marlon Brando – cool enough for two Academy Awards.” I realized why O’Neil is the “Godfather” of awards punditry when he proved to be correct. Penn outmatched his heavyweight competitor Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” to take the title. Getting back to this year, will voters who remember the hugely hip McDormand’s victory for “Fargo” expect that she forgo another Oscar? In the words of Marge Gunderson, “I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work there.”
There’s no one else who can beat her. True, the final five have yet to be announced. But frankly, who is going to overtake Frances? Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water” is in seriously weakened shape after her Golden Globe loss. Ditto for Meryl Streep in “The Post,” whose SAG snub makes it almost impossible for her to make further headlines. Margot Robbie in “I, Tonya” can consider herself a champion for even sliding into the crowded category. And then there’s Saiorse Ronan in the lovely “Lady Bird.” She’s done well with the critics and charmed in her Globe acceptance speech. The problem? Academy members may not consider portraying a troubled teen a terribly challenging task. The young “Lady” will have many more chances with richer roles in the future. That leaves lady luck with McDormand in “Three Billboards,” who looks to be one lucky lady on Oscar’s big night.
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.