Oscar 2008: Best Actress Race–Who Will Win

Oscar 2008: Best Actress—Part One


Now that all the critics groups have voted, and we have less than three weeks until the Oscar nominations (January 22), it’s time to consider who are the frontrunners in this year’s Oscar race, in the various categories. Of the eight actresses on my list below, five stand a chance to be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar.  Read tomorrow my column about the Best Actor race.



Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Meryl Streep, Doubt

            Kate Winslet, The Reader




Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky

Angelina Jolie, Changeling

Kristin Scott Thomas, I’ve Always Loved You


Long Shots


Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Melisa Leo, Frozen River




Anne Hathaway may be the only new face in this year’s Best Actress race. The number of newcomers will grow if Sally Hawkins and Melisa Leo also received a nod.


Meryl Streep, Hollywood’s most respected and accomplished actress will receive her 15th Oscar nod in 30 years. Basically, half of Streep’s films have earned her Oscar recognition, which is an astounding record. She had won two Oscars: Supporting Actress in 1979 for “Kramer Vs. Kramer,” and Best Actress in 1982 for “Sophie’s Choice.”


With five Oscar nominations to her credit (three leads and two supporting), Kate Winslet, only 33, is quickly becoming a perennial nominee? But will she win? Her last nomination was as Best Actress in” Little Children,” in 2006. This year, Kate may occupy the same position that the other Cate (Blanchett) held last year, with two Oscar nominations, one in the lead, and one in the supporting league (for “The Reader”).


Sally Hawkins is the critics darling this season. Her exuberantly cheerful performance in Mike Leigh’s comedy “Happy-Go-Lucky” (one of is few) has won most of the critics groups, including N.Y., L.A., and the National Society of Film Critics.


Angelina Jolie has won one Oscar, Supporting Actress for “Girl, Interrupted,” in 1999.  Last year, Jolie failed to receive an Oscar nomination for “Mighty Heart,” but did get Golden Globe and BFCA nominations.


Well respected by the industry, Kristin Scott Thomas is a known quantity, having been nominated in 1996 as Best Actress for “The English Patient.” Scott Thomas is nominated for a Golden Globe, but she did not make the final cut of the SAG nominations. That her work is in a French-speaking film might also be an obstacle.


Cate Blanchett, winner of the 2004 Supporting Actress Oscar for Martin Scorsese’s biopic, “The Aviator,” in which she portrayed Katharine Hepburn, has been nominated five times, two of which for the same role, Queen Elizabeth, in the two films about her. As noted, last year, she scored two nominations; the Supporting Actress was for playing Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ “I’m Not There.”


How many Oscar voters have seen the great Sundance indie “Frozen River” in the movie theaters? Not many, judging by the box-office receipts of the film, whose cumulative gross is less than $3 million. Which means that the key question would be: How many Oscar voters will see Leo’s performance on their DVD machines. Leo had not received many critics’ awards (she’s often the runner-up to Sally Hawkins), but she is nominated for the SAG Actor Award, which may serve as a good indication for things to come.


Who is your favorite actress this year?


Which five women will be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar?


Note: If you want to know more about the history and politics of the Oscars, please consult my book, All About Oscar: The History and Politics of the Academy Awards (latest edition is 2003, for a book that was first published in 1986 as And the Winner Is… and has been updated every five years).