2016 Oscar Prediction: Best Actress

Oscar Week is finally here which means we’re in the home stretch with the final predictions in the biggest categories starting with Best Actress.

Some really wonderful work from this talented group of actresses. Amy Adams should be among them but it’s a little tricky figuring out who’s place she’d take.

isabelle-huppert-elle-2Isabelle Huppert, Elle

I’ll begin by saying how much I absolutely hate this movie. It takes a lot for me to walk out of a theater before the end credits roll. I like to give films a chance to tell their whole story. But Elle pushed me to my limits. I made it through but it was a mix of frustrating, upsetting and ridiculous. That being said, Isabelle Huppert is excellent in the role of Michèle, the successful CEO of a video game company who refuses to go to the police when she is assaulted. This is a truly messed up character. Please don’t read that as though I don’t see her as a victim. She is. But apart from that she has some serious issues which manifest in different ways both in relation to her assault and apart from it entirely. Huppert puts them all on screen and her effectiveness in doing so is part of why I hate this movie so much. So… good job?

ruth-negga-loving-2Ruth Negga, Loving

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton give such wonderful understated performances in this film. I would have liked to have seen him nominated as well but it would have been tragic if Negga didn’t make the cut. As Mildred, Negga plays a black woman whose love for her white husband Richard winds up changing laws prohibiting interracial marriages in 1960s America. Although Mildred may be timid she isn’t fearful and it’s her quiet resolve to not just accept things the way they were that helps change things for her and Richard and the countless interracial couples since. Negga gives Mildred Loving a convincing voice without making her a cliché or a backseat player to her husband. It’s a delicate line to walk and she does it with subtle beauty.

natlie-portman-jackie-2Natalie Portman, Jackie

You know… maybe it isn’t that tricky to figure out who Amy Adams could replace. First of all, this isn’t a very good movie. It’s OK. But it suffers because Jackie Kennedy is portrayed as such an unlikable person. This is likely a mix of the writing and Portman’s performance. But geez! How bad is it when you make the widow of an assassinated president an unsympathetic figure? Portman ends up giving us little more than a cocktail party impression of Jackie Kennedy.

emma-stone-la-la-land-2Emma Stone, La La Land

I have long been a fan of Emma Stone. The Rocker. Zombieland. Easy A. Crazy, Stupid, Love. The Help. Birdman. And now La La Land. And if that weren’t enough, Emma and I share a birthday. I’m a smidge older but that’s beside the point. When you look at what she accomplished in La La Land it really is astounding. Between the singing, the dancing and the remarkable acting performance it’s hard to think she doesn’t take home her first Oscar. Part of the credit for her brilliance is in the casting. She has so much to draw from to play Mia, the struggling actress who doesn’t quite fit the traditional mold of Hollywood leading ladies. I can’t imagine anyone else in this role. She’s perfect in it.

meryl-streep-florence-foster-jenkinsMeryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

The tired adage that Meryl Streep gets nominated because she made a movie has often been true in the past (One True Thing, The Bridges of Madison County, Music from the Heart) but it isn’t the case with Florence Foster Jenkins. Like Emma Stone, Streep wows with her musical performance. In Streep’s case it’s because she’s terrible. When you can actually sing (see: Into the Woods) it is incredibly difficult to sing badly but still sound like you’re trying to sing well. But beyond the singing is another strong Meryl Streep performance with the small distinctions and shades to her character that make Florence Foster Jenkins much more than just a bad singer.

SELBY PICK: Emma Stone, La La Land

PREDICTION: Emma Stone, La La Land

This might be the only sure thing in this year’s Oscars. She’ll continue to steamroll through awards season picking up one last piece of hardware, the most important one of all.

Twitter: @cmselby

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