2017 Oscars Preview - Best Actress

2017 Oscars Preview - Best Actress

Best Actress is perhaps my favorite category of all at the Oscars. It is often the category with the strongest roster and the fiercest competition. This year appears no different, as several ladies are already being highlighted for work they've done or are about to do. It is traditionally a category that favors younger actresses, but there is usually one wild-card in the bunch. While we of course have no idea what the final lineup will look like, let's look at who's out front at this point. 

Viola Davis - Fences

The first "lock" of the season? Even though this movie has yet to begin shooting, Viola Davis is already considered a heavy favorite to win the category. A combination of factors are lining up to make this her year, but above all, the source material for the film is strong. Based on the August Wilson play by the same name, Davis is reprising her role from the latest Broadway run. With two previous nominations (Doubt and The Help), she has the kind of stature for a narrative to start building this early. Given her recent success on television and the stage, it is only a matter of time before she wins an Oscar. With the Academy being embarrassed by a repeat of #OscarsSoWhite last year, she is poised to potentially benefit. She is approaching the same "lock" status Leonardo DiCaprio enjoyed last year. Expect to see her name everywhere.

Ruth Negga - Loving

 Photo Courtesy of Focus Features

Photo Courtesy of Focus Features

A relative newcomer, she is poised to breakthrough in a big way this year. Loving is the story of the interracial couple at the center of the Supreme Court case that made interracial marriage legal in the US. The film is wrapped and set to show at Cannes next month, which means Focus Features is likely quite confident in its quality. Negga has a tough path to a win because of Viola Davis, but she's a safe bet for a nomination at the moment. 

Annette Benning - 20th Century Women

As a four-time nominee who has never won, Annette Benning is one of the most "due" actresses in Hollywood. Some have speculated that she has probably been runner-up in the past in films like The Kids Are AlrightBeing Julia, and American Beauty. 20th Century Women tells the story of three women who explore love and life in 1970s Southern California. If the role and the film deliver, she should garner a great deal of attention. 

Emily Blunt - The Girl On The Train

Emily Blunt is set to star in this baity adaptation from Paula Hawkins' hit novel of the same name. Blunt has yet to be nominated for an Oscar, but has been in several Oscar-nominated movies, including The Devil Wears PradaInto The Woods and Sicario. Her character is a divorceée who passes her old home on the train everyday. Like Gone Girl in 2014, this will be a showcase for the lead actress. Perhaps Rosamund Pike's nomination for her work there is a good sign for Blunt this year. 

Rooney Mara - Lion and Una

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Rooney Mara is one of the hottest young actresses in Hollywood. Fresh off her nomination for last year's Carol, she looks to have repeat success in multiple films this year. Lion is the story of an adopted Indian boy who finds his birth parents later in life and Una is the story of a young woman who shows up at an older man's workplace looking for answers. Not much is known about either project at this point, but when you have been recently nominated, the Academy is likely to take notice again. 

Amy Adams - The Day They Arrive and Nocturnal Animals

Amy Adams is an Academy darling. Though it seems like she just got here, she already has the same number of Oscar nominations as Tom Hanks! She is in two solid projects this year and that always helps. The Day They Arrive is adapted from a short story about an alien invasion and she plays a linguist charged with determining whether they come in peace or with hostility. Nocturnal Animals is the second feature film by fashion legend, Tom Ford, and it deals with a woman confronting dark truths about herself. Adams is always solid, so if either film is well-received, she could be in the mix. 

Emma Stone - La La Land

emma-stone

Emma Stone has been doing great work recently, so this is certainly a possibility. Her most notable credit is her Oscar-nominated turn in 2015's Best Picture winner, BirdmanLa La Land is the rare original musical motion picture, so it should receive lots of attention. She stars opposite Ryan Gosling in this story about the romantic relationship between their two characters. Time will tell if the film or the part is any good, but given that it is directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), there is reason to hope. 

As always, it is way too early to know if any of these names will cross the finish line, but they are in the lead at the moment. Viola Davis looks like she might win this in a walk, but the nomination battle should be interesting. Some other names in contention include: Taraji P Henson in Hidden Figures, Michelle Pfeiffer in Beatup Little Seagull, Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane, Marion Cotillard in Five Seconds of Silence and Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers.

For now, be sure to check out our other previews of the acting categories linked below:

Best Picture

Best Director

Best Actor

Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actress

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