The Oscars returned to a hard slate of 10 Best Picture nominees this year, but ironically, for the first time in the preferential ballot era, none of the Best Actress Oscar nominees are in a Best Picture nominee.
Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”), Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”), Penelope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”), Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”) and Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) made the final five on Tuesday, but none of their films are in the top 10. The Best Picture nominees were “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story.”
The last time none of the Best Actress nominees were in a Best Picture nominee was 16 years ago, when the main category was still a field of five. Reese Witherspoon won Best Actress for “Walk the Line” over Judi Dench (“Mrs. Henderson Presents”), Felicity Huffman (“Transamerica”), Keira Knightley (“Pride & Prejudice”) and Charlize Theron (“North Country”). The Best Picture nominees were “Crash,” which won, “Brokeback Mountain, “Capote,” “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “Munich.”
SEE Full list of Oscar nominations
Since the preferential ballot era started 12 years ago, there has always been at least one nominated leading lady repping a Best Picture contender, even during the sliding scale years. Last year, we had two in Best Actress champ Frances McDormand fronting Best Picture winner “Nomadland” and Carey Mulligan from “Promising Young Woman.” However, there has yet to be a year with the expanded field in which an entire Best Actress quintet hails from Best Picture nominees. The closest was the 2017-18 race, with only Margot Robbie‘s “I, Tonya” missing Best Picture, while McDormand, who won for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Sally Hawkins (“The Shape of Water”), Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”) and Meryl Streep (“The Post”) all saw their films nominated.
The prospect of none of the Best Actress nominees lining up with Best Picture nominees was always on the table, especially with how wacky the Best Actress race turned out to be and the fact that most of the top Best Picture contenders are, as typically the case, male-led (it should be noted that only two Best Actor nominees this year, “The Power of the Dog’s” Benedict Cumberbatch and “King Richard’s” Will Smith are in Best Picture nominees; last year, there were four). Stewart, the former frontrunner in the category until she missed a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination last month, represents “Spencer’s” only nomination. “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and “Parallel Mothers” each earned two nominations — their others in makeup and hairstyling, and original score, respectively. Colman and Kidman, two former Best Actress champs back in the running, have the most nominated films in the category. “The Lost Daughter” made adapted screenplay, as expected, and also scored a surprise supporting actress bid for Jessie Buckley. Meanwhile, the acting branch was very much here for “Being the Ricardos” as its only other nominations were for lead actor (and Cruz’s husband) Javier Bardem and supporting actor J.K. Simmons.
The female leads of two Best Picture nominees, Alana Haim (“Licorice Pizza”) and Rachel Zegler (“West Side Story”), both making their feature film debuts, missed out, as did, perhaps most surprisingly, Lady Gaga. While “House of Gucci” was not expected to reap a Best Picture bid, Gaga was the only Best Actress contender this year to hit every major precursor. But this was just another twist in the ever chaotic Best Actress race.
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