Oscars Watch Guide: Best Actress

Michael Springthorpe
8 min readNov 15, 2022


Will we give out a third career Oscar or finally crown a long-snubbed star? Updated 1/11/23

Every year it seems, Best Actress turns out to be the far more exciting of the two Lead Acting categories. This year, though, the category is playing out like an All Stars season of Drag Race. At the top are three titans of the industry at different stages of Oscar recognition: one without a single nomination, one with four noms and no wins, and one attempting to nab her third career Oscar. Below them we have past winners, stunning breakouts, and well-regarded actors making their first foray into serious Oscar plays. The trail to the Oscar nominations is sure to be a bloodbath.

In this series, starting below with the aformentioned category, I will outline my Predictions, On Decks, and Dark Horses to get nominated in the eight “major” Oscar categories. Hell, I’ve even thrown in Springthorpe’s Wild Card, a movie or role with zero chance of gettin nominated, but 100% worth your time. For each, I provide my take on the film and where (or when) you can find them. Let’s get going!


Cate Blanchett — TÁR

Where to Find It: On VOD now!

Power Ranking: Cate is a mountain when it comes to Hollywood. Despite only breaking out in 1998, she has rocketed up to near-Meryl status, best evidenced (in my opinion) by her magnificent turn as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, a role that is, first and foremost, Cate Blanchett In A Superhero Movie. TÁR is no different. Todd Field (the director) ultimately deserves the most credit, but Cate is this whole movie. Understandably, the drums have been clanging to give her her third Oscar. Even competing against a never-winner and a never-nominee, her win is still looking likely.

Springthorpe’s Take: Lydia Tár is the funniest cunt in film history. I apologize for the harsh language, but anyone who has seen the movie can affirm what I mean. One of the fullest completely fictional human beings ever put on screen, Cate proves why she has two Oscars (and deserves a third) every two minutes here.

Viola Davis — The Woman King

Where to Find It: On VOD now!

Power Ranking: When I first wrote this series, The Woman King was on the edge between being huge and being totally snubbed. Unfortunately, it’s begun teetering toward snubbery. Viola, though, is the only constant. Along with Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett, she’s the only person to receive a nom from all three Major Precursors (Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice, and SAGs). She’s certainly slot #5, but I think she’s managed to slice her way there.

Springthorpe’s Take: Viola is not my personal pick for Best Actress for this movie. Thuso Mbedu was robbed! She’s still post-Oscar Viola! You could run a small country off the sheer power she exudes here.

Danielle Deadwyler — Till

Where to Find It: On VOD now!

Power Ranking: There’s usually one Best Actress slot saved for a newer face, and Danielle is very nicely poised to be that very face. Till is not a movie set to go far in the race for Oscar, but Danielle (and her role) were basically designed to win Best Actress. Last year, not one of the Best Actress nominees was from a Best Picture nominee, and while that’s not going to be the case this year, this award has a fun relationship with BP that means you don’t have to get a nomination in one to guarantee the other.

Springthorpe’s Take: The second-best Lead Actress performance of the year, after Ms. Yeoh. Granted, this movie was designed at every step of the way to win Danielle an award, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t knock every longshot on her face while someone gives her devastating news out of the park.

Michelle Williams — The Fabelmans

Where to Find It: On VOD now!

Power Ranking: Michelle Williams is one of the most nominated actors to never win an Oscar, an especially noteworthy stat when you know that only two actors that earned their first nom after her share the same distinction (Bradley Cooper and Saoirse Ronan; Amy Adams has 6 noms, receiving her first the same year as Michelle). She was a lock for winning Supporting Actress this year until she announced she would be running in Lead. While it looked solid at first, Cate and The Other Michelle have soared past her, and even Viola is popping up in more places than her.

Springthorpe’s Take: As I referenced above, I thought it was foolish for her to campaign in Lead over Supporting. But then I saw the movie. Michelle is the co-lead of the movie (it is the rare Momma’s Boy movie so the male and female leads aren’t romantically linked). And guess what: she fucking rocks. Do I like it more as a boy raised by a fun, artistic mom? I’ll never tell.

Michelle Yeoh — Everything Everywhere All At Once

Where to Find It: On Showtime now, which is not a usual streamer, but is definitely worth it for more than just this (it’s A24’s go-to streamer home!)

Power Ranking: Michelle Yeoh, an icon of Hong Kong Cinema, and an actor who has recently entered an era where she can really flex her gravitas, has never been nominated for an Oscar. Even after Crouching Tiger and Crazy Rich Asians, she still has no noms. EEAAO, the Little Indie That Could, is set to break that dryspell. While the movie has assumed a place of seeming dominance in the race generally, Michelle is one of the strongest pieces. She may not be able to pull out the win, but she’ll at least give Cate a run for her money.

Springthorpe’s Take: Just like her onscreen husband and daughter, Michelle would already have her Oscar if it was up to me. Comedy! Drama! Mystery! Thriller! Martial Arts! Pastiche! Hibachi! she does it all in this film, all while making anyone but the most hard-hearted assholes bawl their eyes out.

On Deck

Olivia Colman — Empire of Light

Where to Find It: In theaters now!

Power Ranking: In 2018, the Best Actress race seemed like a lock on Glenn Close (the most nominated actor to never win an Oscar, of any gender), with Lady Gaga as a possible spoiler. Out of nowhere, however, Olivia Colman won for her (almost definitely supporting, but inarguably brilliant) performance in The Favorite. Since then, she has received two more Oscar nominations, three Emmy noms and one win, and countless other awards. In an instant, she became an awards darling after years as a Funny British Actress Your Boyfriend Knew From Peep Show. This year, her movie is getting mostly forgotten and buried under mixed reviews, but when the Oscars love you, they really love you. Just ask Caitríona Balfe and Judi Dench.

Springthorpe’s Take: She’s certainly good. But if you’re Olivia Colman at this point, I’m not looking for “certainly good,” I need you to change my life. You’ve done it before!

Margot Robbie — Babylon

Where to Find It: In theaters now!

Power Ranking: Margot has become a dominant force in Hollywood these last few years: not only is she Harley Quinn — a combination of actor and character so seamless it deserves comparison to Heath Ledger’s Joker — but she’s been nominated twice for Oscars and has become a formidable producing power. Also she’s only 32. Unfortunately, Babylon “bombed” at the Box Office (it’s a 3-hour, in-your-face excessive movie about Old Hollywood released on Christmas during historic snowstorms across the country). Margot hasn’t been getting love from quite as many precursors as she’ll need.

Springthorpe’s Take: Margot’s character, a wannabe silent film actress, likes to state that she isn’t “gonna be a star” because she already is one. It turns out to be true in the movie, but only true stars can play stars on screen, and this movie shows Margot is one of our biggest stars in a while.

Dark Horses

Ana de Armas — Blonde

Where to Find It: On Netflix now!

Power Ranking: 2020 was going to be Ana de Armas’ year. She had just come off of a breakout role in Knives Out, she had three potentially huge hits on her hands, AND she was dating Ben Affleck! Then — and I don’t know if you know this — we had to deal with the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic. No Time to Die was pushed to 2021 (to at least high praise for Ana) and Deep Water and Blonde were pushed to this year (to…less high praise). What was once thought to be a Lock for whatever year’s Best Actress race has since been reduced to “Look, the movie sucks, but Ana is definitely good, at least.” SAG and the Golden Globes have kept Ana afloat, though.

Springthorpe’s Take: You see up there how I said the consensus is that the movie sucks? Well I started watching it and have yet to finish. Sorry, Ana.

Rooney Mara — Women Talking

Where to Find It: In theaters now!

Power Ranking: This one is tough. Women Talking was poised to be a major player in this year’s Oscars. But the question of where the (many!) actors will land in the Awards race will land is tricky. Rooney is the closest to a lead of this movie, but she also was the lead of Carol and got a Supporting nom. As the movie keeps getting snubbed in acting categories — I fear voters can’t decide on who to pick so they split their votes — Rooney is just barely staying above water here.

Springthorpe’s Take: It’s not easy being the “lead” in a movie where other people get to be big and bombastic around you. Holding down the center of this great movie, Rooney isn’t the most exciting performance, but that’s not something everyone can do.

Springthorpe’s Wild Card

Amber Midthunder — Prey

Where to Find It: On Hulu now!

Why It Has No Chance: Sadly (stupidly), this movie never received a theatrical release.

Springthorpe’s Take: The original Predator (and, to a lesser extent, its sequels) were excuses to put a bunch of action stars in the same movie together so they could fight a bad guy. Prey takes the smarter approach of “What would be a fun place to put a Predator?” and gifts us with the magic of Amber Midthunder. Ducking, rolling, running, shooting, and even hiding in a cold bog, Amber does it all in this movie. CAST HER!



Michael Springthorpe

Camp Director, Teacher, Performer, and Writer who moved to New York City, then realized there's no woods here. @springthorpeman on Twitter and Instagram.