The Best Actress Oscar odds keep taking Jessica Chastain higher and higher — into first place

What a difference a Screen Actors Guild Award makes. After winning the lead actress prize on Sunday for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Jessica Chastain has surged into the top spot in the Best Actress Oscar odds.

Chastain climbed two spots, bumping former No. 1 Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”) down to second. Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”) slid one spot to third, while the bottom two, Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) and Penelope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”), remains unchanged. Chastain now has nine Experts and seven editors predicting her to win, two more in each group than Colman. Kidman has two Experts and no editors, Stewart has two Experts and one editor, and Cruz has one Expert and no editors — another sign of how messy this race has been.

SEE What the SAG Awards tell us about the delightfully unpredictable Best Actress Oscar race

This is the first time Chastain has held the top spot this season, on which Stewart had a stranglehold until her SAG snub in January. Since then, Kidman and Colman have been neck and neck at the top, with the latter narrowly having the edge until now. While Chastain was not the odds-on favorite to win SAG — Kidman was — her victory is not surprising. Her head-to-toe transformation into Tammy Faye Bakker is very SAG-friendly and it’s a wide-ranging, showy turn that includes singing.

Now can Chastain go all the way and win her first Oscar? She may be in first — entirely reasonable since she’s won the only industry award thus far — but with all the crazy turns this category has taken, you can’t call anyone a lock. Viola Davis won the SAG Award last year for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” in another fractured Best Actress race, but that wasn’t enough for Oscar. However, unlike last year, none of this year’s nominees are contending at BAFTA. Chastain can’t assert herself at BAFTA, but neither can her Oscar opposition. And none of them are in Best Picture nominees either (“Tammy Faye” netted one other bid, Best Makeup and Hairstyling). Basically there’s no Frances McDormand this year. There are probably a few more twists in store, but for now, the Oscar odds are taking Chastain higher and higher.

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Oscar odds for Best Actress
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