Michelle Williams (“The Fabelmans”) threw a bomb into our Oscar odds when it was revealed that she would be campaigning as a lead actress for Steven Spielberg‘s semiautobiographical drama. We’d expected her to be pushed as a supporting actress for her performance as the matriarch of the title family in the film, and she was leading our odds there until her abrupt exit. The question now is not just whether Williams will win Best Actress, but who will fill the vacuum in Best Supporting Actress now that she’s been promoted.
As of this writing, “Women Talking” co-stars Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy are the top two contenders; they had been ranked second and third in our odds, respectively, so Williams’s exit automatically bumped them up to front-runner status. But not all of the 18 Expert journalists we’ve surveyed have updated their picks yet, so this race may yet swing in any direction. Nevertheless, the “Women Talking ” performances are already getting raves — Buckley has been praised for her “controlled precision,” while Foy acts with “formidable power” — so there’s every chance the momentum stays with them, especially with their strong awards pedigrees: Buckley is fresh off her first Oscar nom for “The Lost Daughter” while Foy is a two-time Emmy winner for “The Crown.”
Next in line in our odds are Stephanie Hsu (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Vanessa Kirby (“The Son”), and a rising Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”). But this race may take a while to settle down, especially with multiple films still unseen by press and audiences. Or maybe it’s all a moot point. Remember that Oscar voters don’t have to obey Oscar campaigners. They can nominate actors anywhere they want, as they did when they nominated Kate Winslet (“The Reader”) in lead instead of supporting, or when they nominated LaKeith Stanfield (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) in supporting instead of lead. So there’s perhaps a small chance we’ll see Williams back in this contest after all.
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