Oscars update: Zendaya is surging everywhere in our odds as ‘Malcolm & Marie’ rolls out

Nothing like a late-breaker to add some excitement to this strange, interminable season. Zendaya has broken into the top five of Gold Derby’s Best Actress Oscar odds, but that’s not the only potential lineup she’s disrupting. While the actress didn’t hit the Golden Globes or the Screen Actors Guild Awards en route to her Emmy win for “Euphoria,” she’s coming for a nomination at both for “Malcolm & Marie,” having also cracked the top five in our SAG Awards odds and being on the verge of doing so in the Golden Globes equivalent, sitting in sixth.

Zendaya began her Oscar charts rise after “Malcolm & Marie” started screening earlier this month — five Experts are predicting her for the win — but at this point last week, she was in seventh place in the SAG odds. Earlier this week, she overtook Amy Adams (“Hillbilly Elegy”), who was in sixth, and Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”), who was in fifth. Day, whose film also started screening this month, is the same person Zendaya displaced in the predicted Oscar top five.

This would be the 24-year-old’s first SAG Award nomination — and she could get two as she’s also in the running for limited series/TV movie actress honors for the Rue-centric “Euphoria” special that aired last month. SAG is notorious for overlooking first-year shows (especially those not on Netflix) and then playing catchup, and after Zendaya’s head-turning Emmy triumph, more people are taking notice of a star who’s been very famous to a whole generation of fans for a decade. Plus, actors voted for Zendaya’s Emmy win, and while there isn’t complete membership overlap with SAG-AFTRA, you can safely assume she’ll have support from her fellow thespians.

SEE Carey Mulligan and Zendaya push Best Actress Oscar contenders

At the Globes, the former Disney star is closing in on Sophia Loren (“The Life Ahead”), who’s in fifth, in the Best Film Drama Actress odds. A week ago, she was in seventh behind then-No. 6 Kate Winslet (“Ammonite”). Zendaya has never been nominated for a Globe either, though she was predicted to get one last year for “Euphoria.” Her snub was somewhat surprising considering how much the Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves new shows and starlets. But this is a chance for the HFPA not only to play catchup but to be the first out of the gate to shortlist her for her first lead film role.

What’s more, “Malcolm & Marie” has a genesis story that ought to pique curiosity. The black-and-while film, which premieres on Netflix on Feb. 5, literally exists because of COVID-19: Zendaya reached out to her “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson to write a film they could make in quarantine. He obliged, and the result is a two-hander with Zendaya and John David Washington as the title characters that takes place entirely in their home following Malcolm’s successful film premiere. Zendaya plays his girlfriend, an actress and former addict, and the two come to blows as deep-seated feelings of resentment and inadequacy surface. They trade fiery monologues about their relationship, and Black storytelling and the criticism of it, with Zendaya getting two juicy ones: the final one in the film and one in the middle that has her switching tones on a dime.

If Zendaya makes it in, the next question is: can she win? The same four people occupy the top four spots at all three awards shows: Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”), Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”), Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”) and Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”), with the first two long considered to be the frontrunners and locks for nominations. We still have ways to go this season, but after the Emmys, everyone knows not to underestimate Queen Z anymore.

PREDICT the 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

Oscar predictions for Best Actress
Precursors have gone to different women

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