Oscar Update: Best Actress Predictions Shift With Streep at #1 and Close Bounced Out of Top Five


2012 Oscar Best Actress predictions
Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher and Anthony Head as Geoffrey Howe in The Iron Lady
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

Ahhh, 2012’s Best Actress race at the Oscars. Who is in? Who is out? Who’s the front-runner? I have shifted only once with my #1 slot and I am back again to my original choice and have had to make a tough call at the five slot after seeing My Week with Marilyn earlier this week. But first, let’s deal with the film I have not seen and see what others are saying about Meryl Streep and The Iron Lady.

The Iron Lady screened across the pond and The Guardian‘s Xan Brooks has weighed in as has The Telegraph‘s David Gritten, neither of which are necessarily high on the film, but definitely lavish praise on Streep.

Brooks writes:

“Streep, it transpires, is the one great weapon of this often silly and suspect picture. Her performance is astonishing and all but flawless; a masterpiece of mimicry which re-imagines Thatcher in all her half-forgotten glory. Streep has the basilisk stare; the tilted, faintly predatory posture. Her delivery, too, is eerily good — a show of demure solicitude, invariably overtaken by steely, wild-eyed stridency.”

Gritten is no less effusive adding:

“Streep is splendid, giving a detailed, authoritative performance that goes way beyond accurate impersonation to evoke Thatcher’s spirit. One can think of a few talented British actresses who might have acquitted themselves well in the role, but it’s hard to imagine them doing it better than Streep… Awards should be coming Streep’s way; yet her brilliance rather overshadows the film itself.”

It is beginning to appear as if the stars are aligning and Streep will be getting her first Oscar win in 28 years and 12 nominations (13 after she’s nominated this year). Of course, this means I’ve had to shift Viola Davis out of the top spot for her performance in The Help. In fact, she’s fallen two notches as it now appears Streep’s greatest competition will come from Charlize Theron and her performance in Young Adult. But I’ve said enough of those two in the past… let’s move to Michelle Williams and My Week with Marilyn.

2012 Oscar Best Actress predictions
Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

In Albert Nobbs. I don’t think my previous comment is all that revelatory, but what I should have added to that was that I didn’t have the balls to kick Close out of the top five and Williams got bumped instead. Well, today’s a different day…

Michelle Williams‘ performance in My Week with Marilyn is the best thing about the film. As Marilyn Monroe she’s elegant, neurotic, determined, playful and intoxicating, just as you would expect her to be. The film, however, is a bit of a chore. It’s well made and acted (Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne and Judi Dench are also quite good), but the story didn’t grab me as much as I hoped it would. It seemed there was more to tell, but I’ll comment more on that when I review it and no matter what, none of that detracts from Williams’ performance.

That said, Williams is moving back into the top five and into the #4 slot. As of right now, I see only the #4 and #5 slots up for grabs, with Streep, Davis and Theron as my “take ’em to the bank” mortal locks. However, those last two slots are a bit tenuous, the fifth especially.

Right now that fifth and final spot is occupied by Elizabeth Olsen as she continues the interview circuit and is hobnobbing with Academy members at luncheons. I interviewed her and found her incredibly delightful and if she continues to play things correctly she may be able to ride that charm and a breakout performance to a nomination just as Jennifer Lawrence did last year with Winter’s Bone.

This obviously means I’ve finally sent Close down in the ranks. As I wrote in my Albert Nobbs review out of Toronto, Close creates a character that’s “stodgy and uptight” (not in a good way), and that “I felt zero emotion” her character, a sentiment I have already seen levied elsewhere.

However, my prognosticating doesn’t end there.

2012 Best Actress Oscar predictions
Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Moving up the ranks is Rooney Mara who plays Lisbeth Salander in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s a performance we’ve only seen in fragments from the early trailers and one I am sure many will be comparing to Noomi Rapace‘s in the Swedish original. Thing is, if Mara can win over detractors and deliver a performance unlike any we’ve seen so far this year, she could easily steal that fifth slot from Olsen. Of course, the two could then end up battling over fifth place votes, opening the door for Close yet again not to forget other contenders just below the bubble such as Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Carey Mulligan (Shame) and Keira Knightley (A Dangerous Method).

With that said, just below is my current top five in the category and you can click here for a look at my entire field of contenders, how they rank and my comments on each.

  1. Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
  2. Charlize Theron (Young Adult)
  3. Viola Davis (The Help)
  4. Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
  5. Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene)

Hugo Weaving in Captain AmericaAdditionally, a small piece of housekeeping before I end today’s Oscar column. One film I completely whiffed on adding to my Best Makeup predictions Captain America: The First Avenger.

The makeup work on Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull was excellent, but I am curious how the Academy will look at it considering he did spend upwards of three hours in the makeup chair, but there was also some digital work involved in finalizing the look. Either way, I couldn’t not add it to the list. So to check out the updated Makeup contenders click here.