Are we underestimating Julia Roberts (“Ben is Back”) for Best Actress at the Oscars? That’s what one of our Top 24 Users thinks. Our Top 24 got the highest scores out of more than 8,000 users who forecast last year’s Oscar noms, so their picks this year carry extra weight. User Deydou scored 81.15% which tied them for the 12th best accuracy — that’s almost the top thousandth percentile. And as of this writing they say Roberts will break through.
Roberts gives an emotionally showy performance as the mother of the title character (played by Lucas Hedges), who has returned home to his family unexpectedly after a stint in rehab. Substance abuse stories are popular with awards voters, as evidenced by the wins for Marion Cotillard as drug and alcohol addict Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose” (2007), Jeff Bridges as an alcoholic in “Crazy Heart” (2009) and Christian Bale as a drug abuser in “The Fighter” (2010).
Other actors have won for roles like Roberts plays in “Ben is Back”: characters struggling through a loved one’s addiction. Marcia Gay Harden won Best Supporting Actress for playing artist Lee Krasner, the wife of the alcoholic title painter in “Pollock” (2000). And Reese Witherspoon won Best Actress as June Carter, who suffered her husband Johnny Cash‘s addictions in “Walk the Line” (2005).
The Harden example may be especially relevant to Roberts because Harden had to overcome snubs at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, as Roberts would have to do. But Roberts is an academy favorite with four nominations, including a Best Actress win for “Erin Brockovich” (2000) the same year Harden prevailed in the supporting race. And Roberts has additional buzz this fall from her performance in Amazon’s “Homecoming,” her first ever regular TV series role, for which she did get a Globe nom.
Other actors with noteworthy film and TV roles in 2018 are getting Oscar talk too, like Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects” and “Vice”), Regina King (“Seven Seconds” and “If Beale Street Could Talk”) and Emma Stone (“Maniac” and “The Favourite“). So Roberts’s one-two punch could be the key to her getting “Back” to the Oscars too.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominations are announced on January 22.