Ah, awards season: that wonderfully annoying stretch of months that everyone (okay, most everyone) over-analyzes to the point where avoiding social media as a whole is the best solution. Usually I try not to partake in this but with the LAMB rebooting its Oscar coverage, I felt like chipping my two cents. Hey, I've covered it twice before and both times my predictions were right. Let's see if the third time’s the charm.
Our first actress is Isabelle Huppert, earning her first nomination for Elle. Her Michèle Leblanc – to use a cliché – is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. We become fascinated with her story as it unfolds and quite honestly, Huppert is the only actress working today that could pull off such a role. (And you sure as hell can't find a role like this one in an English language film, that's for sure.)
Also new to the Oscar race is Ruth Negga, nominated for Loving. As often seen in Jeff Nichols' films, the lead roles aren't ones that require much to grab your attention. And as she also showed the previous summer with the TV show Preacher (which you should check out if you haven't), her Mildred Loving is someone whose actions speak louder than her words. (Here's hoping we'll be seeing more of Negga in the not-too-distant future.)
Earning her third Oscar nomination (her second for Best Actress) is Natalie Portman for Jackie. As the recently widowed First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, this could've been a role where she followed the usual tropes of grief. (You know, being an inconsolable mess for basically the whole thing.) But as she did with her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan, Portman shows the fury concealed within her petite features. (Seriously, go watch Closer -- another nominated performance of hers -- as well for proof of this.)
Claiming her second Oscar nomination (her first for Best Actress) is Emma Stone for La La Land. Her Mia Dolan is a familiar character type for your standard musical (an aspiring actress) but it's her charisma that makes you root for her when the going gets rough. She may feel like she's gotten the short end of the stick one time too many but as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. (And boy, does she have to wait.)
And finally we have Meryl Streep, earning her twentieth nomination (her sixteenth for Best Actress) for Florence Foster Jenkins. As the titular socialite, it's a role that requires her to downplay her talents. That said, however, it's obvious that Streep got nominated for the sake of hopefully boosting ratings for the ceremony for the umpteenth time. (Let's be honest, her last few nominations could testify to this claim.)
Apologies for that last blurb. I'm slightly bitter about Annette Bening getting shut out for 20th Century Women. (I would've had her in Streep's place without a second thought.) Also, the lack of love towards Rebecca Hall's work in Christine is upsetting as well. Oh, well. Hopefully word of mouth will keep those performances alive for the next year or so.
Anyway, who do I think will win? Tough choice because both Huppert and Stone have been sweeping various awards circuits. Personally I'd like to see Portman win because she was fantastic in Jackie but I'd also be happy should Huppert win. (Because honestly, when was the last time a performance from an actress as fearless as Huppert’s actually won an Oscar?)