Academy Award Predictions: Best Actress shortlist to feature Hollywood insiders & outsiders
Academy Award Predictions: Below is our list of likely 2009 Best Actress Oscar contenders.
- Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married.
- Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky.
- Melissa Leo, Frozen River.
- Meryl Streep, Doubt.
- Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road.
Much too frequently in the last 40 or so years, one has had to dig for potential Best Actress Academy Award nominees – especially in American films. This year is a remarkable exception; in fact, the Best Actress predictions are the most difficult in the acting categories because there are no less than 10 moderate-to-strong possibilities.
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) and Meryl Streep (Doubt) are both sure to be included. They are popular Hollywood insiders, and even though Streep has received some negative reviews for her portrayal of Doubt‘s obstinate, self-righteous nun, she’s still Meryl Streep.
Sally Hawkins in
Happy-Go-Lucky star Sally Hawkins is just about certain as well, considering that she has been chosen the year’s Best Actress by both the Los Angeles and New York film critics (along with several other critics’ groups); besides, she did get a Golden Globe nomination. Even though Globers and Globettes love big movie stars, Hawkins – not Meryl Streep for the box office hit Mamma Mia! – will definitely be the winner in the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical category.
The fact that Sally Hawkins failed to get a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination doesn’t mean all that much as the SAG and Academy shortlists usually don’t match 100 percent. Possibly – at least in part – because Academy members have more time to watch their screeners of little-known films (such as Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky) that have won critical kudos at year’s end.
Double nominee Kate Winslet?
As for Academy favorite Kate Winslet, she already has five nominations under her belt – her first was 13 years ago (as Best Supporting Actress, for Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility).
So, even if Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road fizzles at the domestic box office, Winslet will likely be adding two more Oscar nods this year. After all, Iris, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Little Children were hardly what one would call blockbusters.
The other Kate Winslet nomination, by the way, will be in the Best Supporting Actress category, for Stephen Daldry’s Holocaust-related The Reader.
And finally, Melissa Leo has a SAG Award nomination for Frozen River, a solid résumé (Last Summer in the Hamptons, 21 Grams) dating back to the mid-1980s, and several mentions in critics’ awards lists.
Other Best Actress possibilities
More Academy Award Predictions: Best Actress Oscar runners-up:
- Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long), who did receive a Golden Globe nod.
- Angelina Jolie (Changeling), who did get a SAG Award nod though Academy members may feel that that should be enough – like last year, when Jolie failed to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her SAG-nominated performance in A Mighty Heart.
- Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy), who could well get a nod if enough Academy voters take the trouble to watch her low-budget film.
Academy Award Predictions: Veterans to dominate Best Actor category
Below are the likely contenders for the 2008 Best Actor Oscar.
- Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino.
- Richard Jenkins, The Visitor.
- Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon.
- Sean Penn, Milk.
- Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler.
Clint Eastwood becomes a sentimental favorite whenever he has a Message to convey – as he does in Gran Torino. Sean Penn (Milk) and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) are two veterans who have been winning Best Actor awards left and right this awards season.
For his portrayal of Richard Nixon in Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon, stage and film veteran Frank Langella will be getting his first Oscar nod – a sort of career achievement recognition, much like James Garner’s Best Actor nomination a couple of decades ago for Murphy’s Romance (1985).
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) will round out the top five.
Dev Patel Cinderella upset?
More Academy Award Predictions: Atop the Best Actor Oscar runners-up list, Slumdog Millionaire actor Dev Patel may pull off a Keisha Castle-Hughes upset. For the 2003 Oscars, the young Whale Rider actress was pushed as a supporting player, but landed a – truly surprising – Best Actress nod instead.
Brad Pitt also has a chance for his reverse-aging character in David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but Academy members may (rightly?) feel that Pitt’s SAG Award nomination and the fact that he’s Angelina Jolie’s significant other are more than enough rewards for him.
A third possibility is Leonardo DiCaprio for his unhappy husband in Revolutionary Road.
Academy Award Predictions: Likely posthumous Best Supporting Actor winner
Below is the list of likely Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominees.
- Josh Brolin, Milk.
- Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder.
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt.
- Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.
- Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire.
Though about as much a lead in The Dark Knight as Christian Bale, Heath Ledger is the shoo-in Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner come next February.
As a priest accused of sexually molesting one of his students, Philip Seymour Hoffman should be shortlisted for Doubt, while Robert Downey Jr. will be in the running for his politically incorrect actor in Tropic Thunder.
Of the extensive supporting cast in Milk, Josh Brolin is the most likely contender. Dev Patel, who apparently supports himself in Slumdog Millionaire, should also make the cut thanks to his film’s Cinderella-style popularity.
Michael Sheen likely to be bypassed – again
Michael Sheen, as much a lead as Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon, is being pushed in the Best Supporting Actor category in the usual scuzzy farce that studios, distributors, and publicists come up with so that well-known leads can steal the spot of legitimate – and usually lesser-known – supporting players.
Unfortunately, Academy members – and critics’ groups, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, etc. – are usually all too eager to go along with the dishonesty.
However, with Dev Patel, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Heath Ledger already crowding the field of leads-as-supporting players, and with leading men such as Josh Brolin and Robert Downey Jr. getting noticed for their semi-supporting roles, that leaves no room for Sheen, whose David Frost will most likely suffer the fate of his non-nominated Tony Blair (in The Queen) two years ago.
James Franco (Milk) could also end up among the top five, even though his name has only seldom been mentioned in year-end awards lists.
Best Supporting Actor long shots:
- Bill Irwin, Rachel Getting Married.
- Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky.
- Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road.
- Ralph Fiennes, The Duchess.
Academy Award Predictions: Best Supporting Actress category filled with stellar names
Academy Award Predictions: Below is the list of likely Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominees.
- Amy Adams, Doubt.
- Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
- Viola Davis, Doubt.
- Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler.
- Kate Winslet, The Reader.
This is another field dominated by big names in roles that are a notch below leads. In a weaker, Revolutionary Road-less year, Kate Winslet would surely have been pushed in the Best Actress category for The Reader, and the same probably goes for Penélope Cruz in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona and perhaps even Amy Adams in Doubt.
If Marisa Tomei could get nominated – and win – for My Cousin Vinny, she’ll most likely get at least a nomination for her The Wrestler pole dancer.
Viola Davis is the only lesser-known name among the potential five Best Supporting Actress nominees; she has been included because of all the critical recognition coming her way this awards season. And let’s not forget Davis’ SAG Award nomination.
Rosemarie DeWitt & Taraji P. Henson
The two Best Supporting Actress runners-up – Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married) and Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) – would have considerably better chances if they were stars.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association keeps getting badgered for their eagerness to include big-name movie stars among their nominees, but the revered Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is really not all that different.
Even so, either DeWitt or SAG nominee Henson may still land a spot among the five Best Supporting Actress finalists.
Now, the Best Supporting Actress Oscar long shots would be:
- Misty Upham, Frozen River.
- Vera Farmiga, Nothing But the Truth.
- Emma Thompson, Brideshead Revisited.
- Catherine Keener, Synecdoche, New York.
- Beyoncé Knowles, Cadillac Records.
- And three-time Best Actress nominee Debra Winger (An Officer and a Gentleman, 1982; Terms of Endearment, 1983; Shadowlands, 1993), who would have been a shoo-in had her performance in Rachel Getting Married received more year-end attention.
Academy Award Predictions: Christopher Nolan & David Fincher up for Best Director?
In our Academy Award predictions, all the likely Best Director nominees match the films found in our Best Picture list (see link further below) – something that is less common in Academy Award history than one might think.
- Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.
- David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
- Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon.
- Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight.
- Gus Van Sant, Milk.
Of the names listed above, David Fincher is possibly the iffiest. Yet Fincher has been getting plenty of recognition from critics’ and other groups. Despite a number of unenthusiastic reviews for – the commercially successful – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, he’ll likely land a Best Director nomination come next January.
Mike Leigh & Clint Eastwood among runners-up
Best Director Oscar runners-up: Mike Leigh could theoretically pull off another Vera Drake upset and take either David Fincher’s or Ron Howard’s place. Clint Eastwood, for his part, would have been a shoo-in in some other year, but competition in 2008 is strong.
Below are a few other possibilities:
- Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road.
- Stephen Daldry, The Reader.
- Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married.
Best Director Oscar long shots:
- Courtney Hunt, Frozen River.
- Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler.
- Andrew Stanton, WALL-E.
- And finally, Doubt director John Patrick Shanley will have to be content with a Best Adapted Screenplay nod.
See follow-up post: “More Predictions: Cinderella Tale + Slain Gay Politician & Veteran Jan Troell Returns.”
Katharine Hepburn & posthumous Oscar nominations
 Katharine Hepburn owns the record for most wins in the acting categories, four in all, each as Best Actress: Morning Glory (1932–1933), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), On Golden Pond (1981).
 The other posthumous thespian Academy Award nominees are the following: Ralph Richardson (Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, 1984), Spencer Tracy (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, 1967), James Dean twice (Rebel Without a Cause, 1955; Giant, 1956), and unofficial nominee Jeanne Eagels (The Letter, 1928–1929).
Meryl Streep and Amy Adams Doubt images: Miramax Films.
Clint Eastwood Gran Torino image: Warner Bros.
Heath Ledger The Dark Knight: Warner Bros.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website.
“Academy Award Predictions: Meryl Streep & Clint Eastwood + Posthumous Best Supporting Actor Nomination” last updated in March 2018.