Oscars 2016: Predicting Best Actress

2015 brought with it a seismic (or temporary) shift in the balance of leading star power in Hollywood. The 2016 Oscars will be a rarity with a crowded field of Best Actress nominees – with many deserving left out – and a relatively thin Best Actor list. More on them later.

Women dominated 2015, with strong work and (finally) their chance to get out of the shadow of their male counterparts, both in blockbusters and prestige pictures. Newcomers and stalwarts fill out this Best Actress category from top to bottom, and while I hope a few people manage to squeeze in the five slots, there are just too many wonderful performances that will overtake my personal faves. Here we go.

Best Actress

Brie Larson is a shoe-in, and someone I hope soon becomes the favorite for her captivating performance in Room. Larson is simultaneously strong, frightened, resolve, and weak as she struggles to raise her son in captivity and, once freed, struggles to redefine the life that was taken from her. It is a performance for the ages, and one I hope is recognized. Right behind her is Saoirse Ronan for her sublime, romantic spin in Brooklyn. If Larson isn’t the favorite, look no further than Ronan.

Brie Larson  Saoirse Ronan

Then, of course, we have Cate Blanchett in Carol. Blanchett is quickly becoming the new Meryl Streep with her perennial inclusion in the Oscar discussion. Sure, Rooney Mara and Blanchett have equal claim to lead actress in Carol, but Harvey Weinstein won’t allow such a ridiculous thing as his actresses getting split votes. That’s why Mara will get her Best Supporting Actress nod.

And then there were two. Two slots, at least six reasonable hopefuls, all of which are deserving in their own right. I have been pulling for Charlize Theron to get proper accolades for her performance in Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s still a longshot, but a strange thing is beginning to happen. Fury Road is collecting more and more nominations and awards as the season moves forward. Momentum is a real thing when it comes to Oscar season, and Fury Road has momentum in its corner. That’s why I’m sticking with Theron now in this fourth spot, because I won’t be 100% right either way and there’s always a surprise here and there; why not this surprise?

Cate Blanchett  Charlotte Rampling

We all love Jennifer Lawrence, and I’m sure she will be at the Oscars to make us all laugh and feel better about humanity regardless of any nomination. While solid in Joy, Lawrence and the film are nothing special, nothing close to her turns in Winter’s Bone or Silver Linings Playbook or American Hustle. It’s a step down from those, which is fine sometimes. It’ll leave her on the outside looking in this year. And while my fingers are crossed for Emily Blunt in Sicario, I have little faith her stout performance will be recognized. Then there’s Sarah Silverman in I Smile Back. Silverman was phenomenal as a broken housewife, but the weakness of the film as a whole will keep her at arm’s length. Alicia Vikander might be considered for The Danish Girl, although she should get noticed for Ex Machina instead.

The fifth spot belongs to Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years. I know very little about this film, other than our review from Dewey Singleton, and a few clips. I do know this is the sort of performance Oscar eats up, a soulful, intimate family drama in a tiny picture. Rampling will get the recognition on behalf of the entire film.


Brie Larson – Room

Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Cate Blanchett – Carol

Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road

Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

Up next week, Best Actor Predictions.

Here are the predictions thus far:


Supporting Actress

Supporting Actor

Larry Taylor - Managing Editor
Larry Taylor - Managing Editor
Larry is the managing editor for Monkeys Fighting Robots. The Dalai Lama once told him when he dies he will receive total consciousness. So he's got that going for him... Which is nice.