Over her remarkable career, Meryl Streep has amassed a record 20 Oscar nominations, nearly double the recognition of her closest competition. Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson each garnered a dozen bids over their lengthy careers. This year, with her acclaimed turn as Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, in Steven Spielberg‘s “The Post,” Streep is poised to extend her lead even further with another Best Actress Academy Awards nomination.
Thus far this awards season, Streep has won Best Actress honors from the National Board of Review and earned Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominations. Cause for concern, however, were her snubs at both the SAG and BAFTA Awards. Since the inception of the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 1994, Streep has never missed at both these and the British awards and still received an Oscar nomination.
Still, there are four compelling reasons to believe Streep will be nominated on Tuesday.
1. Streep rarely misses on Oscar nominations morning
Since 1977 and her big screen debut in “Julia,” Streep has been a nominee on 20 occasions, or half of the 40 Oscar ceremonies. When she does miss, it’s often because her film of the year was a flop, like “Falling in Love” (1984); “Heartburn” (1986); and her trio of pictures from 2007 – “Evening,” “Lions for Lambs” and “Rendition.” She also occasionally fails to win the academy over with light comedies, efforts like “She-Devil” (1989); “Defending Your Life” (1991); and “Death Becomes Her” (1992). “The Post” is neither a bomb, financially or critically, nor a frothy film unlikely for the actors branch of the academy to take seriously.
2. Women in Spielberg pictures are typically nominated
When an actress has been in awards contention for a Spielberg film, she has, more often than not, made the cut at the Oscars. There was Melinda Dillon for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977); Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey for “The Color Purple” (1985); and Sally Field for “Lincoln” (2012). Only Samantha Morton in “Minority Report” (2002) missed out on a nomination after some modest awards season attention.
3. There is no clear alternative to Streep for the fifth slot
Beyond the four Best Actress front-runners — Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”); Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”); Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya”); and Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”) — there is no clear alternative to Streep for that fifth slot. Jessica Chastain (“Molly’s Game”) started the awards season strong with Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominations, only to be absent at the SAG Awards and BAFTA Awards. Golden Globe nominee Judi Dench (“Victoria and Abdul”) was a surprise SAG nominee but even more stunning was her snub at BAFTA. There’s also Annette Bening (“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool”), who surfaced at BAFTA after missing at most precursors, and Golden Globe nominee Michelle Williams (“All the Money in the World”), the recipient of significant recent press over the pay discrepancy between she and co-star Mark Wahlberg. Having so many contenders in the mix likely only benefits Oscar mainstay Streep.
4. Streep’s Best Drama Actress Golden Globe nominations tend to translate to Oscar recognition
This year, Streep earned her 14th Golden Globe nomination in Best Drama Actress. To date, she has gone on to score Oscar nominations for all of these performances, with the exception of three: “The River Wild” (1994); “Marvin’s Room” (1997); and “The Hours” (2002). In the cases of “Marvin’s Room” and “The Hours,” she competed in those awards seasons against co-stars Diane Keaton and Nicole Kidman, who would instead go on to earn the Oscar nominations. There is no other leading lady in “The Post.”
Streep has had a tad less luck in making the jump from a Best Film Musical/Comedy Actress Golden Globe nomination to an Oscar nomination. A total of 10 Globe nominations for comedic turns have translated to five Oscar nominations. So, according to awards history, when the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. likes a dramatic Streep turn, odds are the academy will follow suit.
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.