Just like the films that Hollywood produces, the Academy loves a strong narrative, particularly that of a good old-fashioned comeback.
Cue Renee Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland in the biopic Judy. While the film itself isn’t going to pick up many nominations elsewhere, Zellweger’s performance was one of the strongest of her career, which has recently taken a back seat. A comeback mirroring that of Garland herself is a narrative I can’t imagine the Academy would pass up on.
Like Adam Driver, who is fuelled by Star Wars in his heightened recognition for Marriage Story, Scarlett Johansson has caught the eye of many critics for her own performance in the film. With Avengers Endgame in the background and her own Black Widow film ahead, there’s no doubt that she has enough publicity to campaign for such a nomination. That being said, Johansson hasn’t shied away from controversy: she earned her much scrutiny after her comments on her justifying her casting as a trans-woman. Though, if the Academy’s own poor attempts at representation are anything to go on, Johansson will likely receive immunity in the voting process.
From hip-hop artist, to supporting actress, to being in the lead role, Awkwafina has made quite the name for herself – and deservedly so. Her role as Billy in The Farewell illuminated her capabilities as an actress, outshining many that have spent years perfecting the craft. Beyond her pure talent, Awkwafina is a recognisable figure in the public and her inclusion would diversify the field.
Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman both star in the upcoming Bombshell, based on the recent sex scandal at Fox News, and first reactions, as well as long reputations, certainly put them in the running. It is unlikely that both Kidman and Theron will be nominated, and the risk being played in a campaign is that they split the vote and cancel each other out. Nevertheless, I feel confident enough that one will be able to secure a nomination.
Finishing the Best Actress category is Saoirse Ronan for her role as Jo March in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Ronan is no stranger to award season, having been under the microscope of the Academy since Lady Bird, with further scrutiny and praise being given for last year’s Mary, Queen of Scots. Ronan already has two nominations for Best Actress, with another for Best Supporting Actress, so another great performance seems like enough to add one more nomination to her resume.
Best supporting roles are always trickier to predict – at least in some cases. Based on popularity in the media, Margot Robbie’s performance as Sharon Tate in Hollywood feels like a safe bet, while Jennifer Lopez could sneak in for her own performance in Hustlers. More veteran actresses, such as Laura Dern and Zhao Shuzen (Marriage Story and The Farewell, respectively) also feel like reliable hedges, with Shuzen being my personal favourite to win.