Want proof that the Oscars are the ultimate boys club? If “The Shape of Water” wins Best Picture at the Oscars, as it recently did at the Critics’ Choice and Producers Guild Awards, it would be the first female-led winner in a whopping 13 years. “The Shape of Water” is told through the eyes of Sally Hawkins‘ deaf janitor Elisa Esposito, a woman who falls in love with a sea creature. The last female perspective film to prevail at the Oscars was “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), which starred Hilary Swank as amateur boxer Mary Margaret “Maggie” Fitzgerald.
“The Shape of Water” is hardly the only female-led film in this year’s Oscar discussion. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” stars Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes, a bereaved mother who guilts the police department for not solving her daughter’s murder. McDormand has already won trophies at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards, while “Three Billboards” claimed the top prize at the Globes and SAG.
Of course, the ultimate female perspective film of the year is “Lady Bird.” Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” stars Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf as a daughter and mother with a complicated relationship in this coming-of-age story. The film notably won Best Comedy Film and Best Comedy Actress for Ronan at the Golden Globes.
Other potential Best Picture contenders this year that feature strong women in lead roles include “The Post” (Meryl Streep), “The Florida Project” (Brooklynn Prince), “I, Tonya” (Margot Robbie), “The Beguiled” (Nicole Kidman), “Wonder Woman” (Gal Gadot), “All the Money in the World” (Michelle Williams) and “Molly’s Game” (Jessica Chastain). See more 2018 Oscar predictions.
While “Million Dollar Baby” was the last female perspective film to win Best Picture at the Oscars, a number of others have been nominated over the past several years, including: “Arrival” (Amy Adams), “Hidden Figures” (Taraji P. Henson), “La La Land” (Emma Stone), “Brooklyn” (Saoirse Ronan), “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Charlize Theron), “Room” (Brie Larson), “The Theory of Everything” (Felicity Jones), “American Hustle” (Amy Adams), “Gravity” (Sandra Bullock), “Philomena” (Judi Dench), “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (Quvenzhane Wallis), “Silver Linings Playbook” (Jennifer Lawrence), “Zero Dark Thirty” (Jessica Chastain), “The Help” (Viola Davis), “Black Swan” (Natalie Portman), “The Kids Are All Right” (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) and “Winter’s Bone” (Jennifer Lawrence). All of these Best Picture nominees lost to male-centric films.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank Oscar contenders in this and the other top races. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see the other categories. Then take a look at the most up-to-date odds before you make make your Oscar nomination predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.