I came up with a shortlist of nine women I considered for my top five and I’d be thrilled if any of them made the Academy’s cut (which hasn’t been announced as I write this but will be a day old when you read it). My guess is that only three of the nine will be recognized by Oscar.
First, here are four performances being talked about in this category that I have not yet seen:
Amy Adams – Vice
Margot Robbie – Mary Queen of Scots
Claire Foy – First Man
Nicole Kidman – Boy Erased
Here are my runners-up:
Linda Cardellini – Green Book
Though the bulk of this film follows the two men on the road, Cardellini anchors the New York scenes. We’re quicker to love Tony Lip because she does.
Kayli Carter – Private Life
This newcomer plays off of seasoned vets Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn effortlessly, stealing scene after scene as their blunt, free-spirited niece.
Marina De Tavira – Roma
As the matriarch of Roma‘s central family, De Tavira weathers her own heartbreaks. A longtime actress surrounded by non-professionals, her stature comes through even as she blends into the ensemble.
Zoe Kazan – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
In the most devastating chapter of the Coen Brothers’ western anthology, Kazan turns a meek prairie woman into a powerfully tragic romantic figure.
And here are my five nominees:
Olivia Colman – The Favourite
The producers are pushing her in the Best Actress category, but I think Colman belongs here. Either way, she delivered one of the most impressive, transformative performances of the year, alternately hilarious and heartbreaking. She might have been an easy winner in this category but will face an uphill climb against Glenn Close in Best Actress.
Regina King – If Beale Street Could Talk
I’ve been enjoying King’s work from the early 90s (she is one of the best parts of Jerry Maguire) through her recent turn in HBO’s The Leftovers. She is the best part of Beale Street as a mother doing everything she can to ensure her daughter’s happiness.
Haley Lu Richardson – Support the Girls
When I watched Support the Girls the first time, I adored Richardson as bubbly waitress Maci. I also assumed she was pretty much playing herself. But when I saw interviews with her and clips from her other roles, I realized what a truly wonderful, humane performance she delivered.
Rachel Weisz – The Favourite
I couldn’t include Emma Stone and Olivia Colman among my acting picks and leave out Rachel Weisz, who is every bit as crucial a point in this bizarre love triangle. Weisz has the least showy role but she chews on every delicious line like a dog devouring a bone.
Michelle Yeoh – Crazy Rich Asians
Yeoh turns a ‘mother-in-law from Hell’ role into something so much more complex, hiding feelings of pride, dignity, love and the tiniest glimmer of insecurity behind her steely gaze. Her almost-smile in the film’s closing moments hits like a thunderclap.
Of this batch, I would objectively give the trophy to Colman, but my heart is with Regina King.
Heart-strong and stubborn like my father
A lil strawberry sweet
With a raw and rowdy streak
If that scares you honey don’t even bother yah
Ain’t got time for big hat no caddle
Boy you gotta sit tall in the saddle
Ain’t my first rodeo
You ain’t gonna take me home
If you take it nice n slow
Hey babe if you wanna take a ride you gotta treat me right
C’mon baby cowboy up
I need a man who’s man enough to handle my love
C’mon cowboy up
Little dirt on your hands is sexy
Tough as nails and rocks me steady
I like em salt of the earth
In a sweaty white t-shirt
Who knows he’s gotta work.. gotta work to get me
You can tame the wild wild west
I’ll be your damsel in distress
Ride me off into the sun
Til it goes down and come back up
Leave this ghost town in the dust
Chase our dreams the two of us
Kiss ya hotter than a habanero
If you can be mi vaquero