Of late, the Academy Awards have seen a much tighter race in the women’s acting categories than in the men’s, and for good reason. Not only were women at the center of Hollywood this year, but they delivered, as they usually do, some of the most memorable performances of the year. And the nominees for this year’s Oscars are just a sample of all that talent. Let’s get into it!
2018 Oscars Nominees
Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
Meryl Streep (The Post)
Margot Robbie (I, Tonya)
Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri)
Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water)
Who will win?
At 23 years old, Saoirse Ronan already has three Academy Award nominations under her belt. And Lady Bird has given the Irish actress her most prominent role to date. The Greta-Gerwig-helmed coming-of-age dramedy was universally praised and, for a few weeks, held the record for the best reviewed film ever on Rotten Tomatoes before Paddington 2 took over. The actress also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical.
So, with so much industry support and universal love for her film, Ronan is in a good position to go all the way. That being said, the actress lost some major Oscars precursors like the Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG) and the Critics’ Choice Award to some of her contenders, and her film, while a phenomenal piece of work, will probably not bode too well with some of the more traditional Oscar voters who will look for a show-stopping scene that Ronan’s character lacks in the film. Despite the latter, with nods in major categories for her film, Ronan still has a chance, though I’d say a slimmer one by the day.
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Holding the record for most nominations for any actor/actress at 21, Meryl Streep is an undeniable force of nature. And while the actress does do a fine job in The Post, and as much as I love her work, her chances at a fourth win are close to null. And a large part of that is due to the fact that, quite frankly, Streep shouldn’t have even been in the category this year. The final slot should have instead gone to Vicky Krieps for her snubbed, fantastic work in Phantom Thread.
Another point to consider is that The Post, easily a Best Picture winner 15 years ago, received only one other nomination (Best Picture, ironically), which is great, but a spear in the film’s campaign and therefore Meryl’s.
Margot Robbie’s breakout role came with her performance as Harley Quinn in last year’s Suicide Squad. But the Australian actress’ turn in I, Tonya, as the notorious figure skater Tonya Harding, offered her a range of emotions to explore that will undoubtedly fare well with Oscar voters. The actress excels in a number of striking scenes in the film, most notable of is a 15-second sequence facing the camera as she tearfully applies her makeup moments before her routine.
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Much like Ronan, Robbie lacks key wins in multiple awards but won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Comedy Actress, putting her at a good place to charge ahead, but the lack of a Best Picture nomination for the film will undoubtedly hurt her campaign. Still, surprises have happened, and Robbie’s performance definitely wins on merit.
Towering over all the nominees with SAG, Golden Globe, and Critic’s Choice Award wins is Frances McDormand, whose powerful performance as Mildred Hayes in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a marvel to watch. It is easily one of the actress’ best career performances and one she will be remembered for. Adding to her chances is how well-received her film has been, with seven Oscar nominations, its leads’ dominating awards run, and rumours of a Best Picture win. While McDormand’s lack of general interest in the Oscars (awards generally, really) is well-known and might hurt her chances (isn’t this part publicity game after all?), her performance is too great to ignore and truly drives the film.
Finishing the list is industry darling Sally Hawkins. When the trailer for The Shape of Water first came out, it became quickly clear that Hawkins’ Elisa, a mute janitor attempting to save a life, would turn heads. And that it did. Hawkins carries herself gracefully with a tremendously sincere physical performance. But what holds her Oscars campaign back is her own film.
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The Shape of Water has become the awards juggernaut of the season, garnering world-wide praise and picking up accolades left and right, including 13 Oscar nominations. And as great as Hawkins is in the role, the film is a showcase for its director and effects above all else, and is so big an effort that its light somewhat swallows its central performances — a sad truth but one that shouldn’t take away from the caliber of the central performance.
Who will win: Frances McDormand
Who should win: Frances McDormand
Honourary Mentions: Margot Robbie