Best Actress Race: Hold Your Horses on Emma Stone

Best Actress: Hold Your Horses On Emma Stone

Isabelle Huppert (Elle)

This reminds me of 2012 when I predicted Emmanuelle Riva to take home the gold for Amour, upsetting both Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty). That obviously didn’t happen, and I’m not sure this will happen either.  In each case, both are very celebrated international actresses who had scorching momentum going into the final days. We shouldn’t take too much stock into the Golden Globes win, but it’s something. Let’s also keep in mind that the Globes are decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press, so it’s not a complete shock that Huppert won.

Huppert went from someone I didn’t think would get nominated to potentially playing spoiler. Her performance in Elle is ridiculously Oscar-y, playing a victim of sexual assault.  That’s hard to ignore, but at the end of the day, the movie just isn’t a powerhouse.  Elle isn’t even nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. That’s significant. Nevertheless, this could no doubt be the SHOCK of the night.

Chances of Winning: High
Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

Ruth Negga (Loving)

I was very happy to see Ruth Negga get a nomination here.  In a loaded category, she was right on the bubble. While Huppert gives a great performance, her job was easier than Negga’s. This is a very nuanced, quiet role, but Negga nails it with subtle power. It’s an extraordinarily tough job, and quite honestly, she should probably be getting more notoriety in an otherwise okay film. Having said that, Negga is fourth, maybe even fifth to win.  It is truly just an honor to be nominated in Best Actress this year, but as far as her Oscar chances go, no chance.

Chances of Winning: Low
Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

Natalie Portman (Jackie)

Within the first ten seconds of Jackie, I knew Natalie Portman was going to win her second Oscar. That all changed. Having said that, I continue to believe Portman can still pull this off. Part of the reason she’s lost so much momentum is the film itself didn’t do much. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of an Oscar voter though. When they sit down to watch Jackie, it’s going to be difficult not to remember what Portman achieved with this part.

I hate to use the cliche, but the entire performance really is a tour de force. Ugh. I feel dirty. Regardless, playing Jackie Kennedy cannot be forgotten. Everything Portman does with her accent and voice inflection is acting perfection. While she’s definitely in third position right now, we might all be saying this come Oscar night: “Wow. We’re morons.”

Chances of Winning: Middle of the Pack
Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

Emma Stone (La La Land)

We can talk about dark horses and upsets all we want, but there’s no denying who the favorite is in this category. Emma Stone plays a role that is quintessential classic Hollywood: The struggling actress with show stopping musical numbers. The character’s signature moment (“Audition”) is the kind of scene a kid would play out as if they were pretending to win an Oscar.

Aside from the role being tailored made to win awards, Emma Stone takes every advantage and gives one hell of a performance. As great as Ryan Gosling is, this is her movie. Emma Stone came close to winning a couple years ago for Birdman.  This year, she’s likely to close the deal.

Chances of Winning: High
Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)

This is the type of role that 95% of actresses would win an Oscar for.  For Meryl Streep, it’s just another day at the office.  Meryl can do this role in her sleep. Maybe if the movie got more play, she’d have a glimmer of hope. Meryl Streep will win a fourth Academy Award at some point, but it won’t come Sunday night. As per usual, Meryl is always along for the ride.

Chances of Winning: Low
Is the Performance Worthy of an Oscar? Yes

For my final predictions in all the major categories, check out our annual Oscar podcast right here!

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.