Best Actress Oscar: Why Danielle Deadwyler (‘Till’) will win instead of Cate Blanchett (‘TÁR’)

For months, pundits have been predicting Cate Blanchett will win the Best Actress Oscar for her intricate performance as an imperious conductor who suffers a spectacular fall from grace in the film “TÁR.” The star, who has a Best Actress Oscar for “Blue Jasmine” (2013) and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “The Aviator” (2004), received some of the best reviews of her career for her performance. But the film has underperformed at the box office — just $3.7 million domestic, according to Variety Insight — and tells the story of a rather unlikeable figure, despite Blanchett’s critical canonization. Could she be overtaken on Oscar night by the relatively unknown Danielle Deadwyler for “Till”?

Deadwyler imbues the civil rights drama with a heartrending immediacy, although the events portrayed in the movie, which has made $6.6 million, took place 67 years ago. As Mamie Till, mother of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955, the dignified Deadwyler has the kind of fresh face the academy looks for. Your heart goes out to Mamie as she comes to grips with her son’s death and sits through his trial, where an all-white, all-male jury finds Emmett’s white killers not guilty.

By contrast, your heart never goes out to Blanchett’s character, Lydia Tar, a world-renowned composer-conductor. Turns out that she is as devious, awful and corrupt as her social media critics attest.

Deadwyler also has the one scene that any actress is going to have trouble matching this year. When Emmett’s body is returned to his home in Chicago, Mamie orders an open-casket funeral and asks to see his body beforehand. The camera then shows her examining her late son’s river-swollen, disfigured corpse, tears quietly spilling down her face. She goes outside and asks a photographer to take pictures so the public can see what the murderers did to her son. It’s an unbelievable sequence that never indulges in melodrama. What’s even more powerful, the photos were really published in Jet magazine and the Chicago Defender, and many older academy members will remember that.

Gold Derby currently gives Blanchett 18/5 odds to add a third Oscar her collection. She’s in first place for Best Actress but there is some shifting going on among odds-makers with her competition.

Michelle Yeoh, with 4/1 odds, is in second place for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Four-time nominee Michelle Williams is in third with 11/2 odds for playing a character based on Steven Spielberg’s mother in “The Fabelmans.” Deadwyler, in fourth place, also has 11/2 odds but she is on the rise. The Top 5 is rounded out by Margot Robbie (“Babylon”) at 19/2 odds.

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