carey-mulligan-in-promising-young-woman-2020

2021 Oscar Predictions — Best Actress

You might think that this category is all wrapped up now that the Golden Globes have happened. But the Globes are not the be-all end-all predictor of the Oscars. This is particularly true in acting categories, where the campaigning to the Globes’ HFPA looks much different than it does for the Academy. Each year, there seems to be at least one off-the-beaten-path choice by the Globes in the acting categories. And this year, that left-field win appears to be from the Best Actress category.

The Nominees:

  • Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday
  • Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman
  • Frances McDormand – Nomadland
  • Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Will Win: Carey Mulligan

Could Win: Viola Davis

Dark Horse: Frances McDormand

Before we reach the Screen Actors Guild awards, this category will be difficult to call. With Andra Day winning the Golden Globe but not receiving a SAG nomination, her Oscar stock has dropped fairly precipitously. Vanessa Kirby has not made waves during the early half of awards season, racking up nominations but no wins. And the would-be Oscar contender Pieces of a Woman has not shown up at all in other categories. Consider these two performers out of this race.

With two of the remaining three actors with Oscars to their name already, Mulligan seems like a strong pick. Her performance is bold in a film that has been very successful in getting nominations this season. Promising Young Woman has proven itself to be a strong contender in this year’s awards season. The one thing keeping me from going all-in on Mulligan (aside from my wait-and-see attitude regarding the SAGs) is that Viola Davis has not won in the Leading Role category. McDormand, who is very good in Nomadland, has won the category too recently for me to have much confidence in her chances.

Yet she is an outside possibility. Nomadland has experienced a recent surge in its Oscar stock, having won the coveted Best Picture precursor in the Producers Guild Award. The film could run the table like last year’s Parasite (although I think it is unlikely). And McDormand is the performance of that film, so a case could be made that she should be included in the potential sweep.

All in all, I feel quite confident in Mulligan as the favorite here. And if she wins the SAG, than it is all but wrapped up with her name tagged on it.


As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)

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