Best Actress Award Categories Are the Most Exciting and Disappointing This Year

Awards Season

On the state of awards season now that the BFCA, NYFCC, Gotham Awards, and National Board of Review have chimed in.

Awards season is off to a less than thrilling start this week, with most of the results of the Gotham Awards, the National Board of Review picks, and today’s announcements of the New York Film Critics Circle winners and the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critic’s Choice Awards nominees (see down below) offering a lot of predictable names and titles. Casey Affleck is so far unchallenged in his path toward an Oscar, being named Best Actor at the Gothams and by the NBR and NYFCC (he’s also got a Critics’ Choice nod) for his performance in Manchester by the Sea. Meanwhile, Best Picture seems to be a three-way race between Manchester, Moonlight, and La La Land, but it’s the last one that will come out as champ. If only because it’s about movies. And O.J.: Made in America appears to be a lock for best documentary feature (it will be the longest nominated, let alone to win).

However, there are some races that have been and will continue to be interesting through next February. The Best Animated Feature category, contention for which has been crowded with quality, remains intriguing now that Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings have each locked a single mention while the heavily campaigned Sausage Party was snubbed by the BFCA (of which I should point out I’m a member and also not a fan of that movie at all). The supporting actor category could also be one to watch, with Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali so far going head to head against Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water ‐ but Bridges’s co-star Ben Foster has gained potential vote-splitting traction via the BFCA’s recognition.

More exciting are the actress categories. At the start of the season, all we heard was that the Best Actress race is tough to predict, with La La Land’s Emma Stone, Jackie’s Natalie Portman, 20th Century Women’s Annette Bening, and Arrival’s Amy Adams all having a good shot at honors. But then Elle’s Isabelle Huppert came with some serious heat this week, winning the Gotham and the NYFCC awards and looking quite strong with her Critics’ Choice nod (my pick). She’ll also do well with other regional critics’ groups, but most pundits don’t think the Academy will pick her for the Oscar. Maybe Stone? I think there’s a better chance they finally give Bening something.

As for the Best Supporting Actress category, it could be anyone’s game. Naomie Harris and Michelle Williams each have a win so far, though the latter’s honor is split between her performances in Manchester and Certain Women. Does Harris have less of a chance from groups like the NYFCC because she only has one notable role this year? (Huppert’s NYFCC win is also for two movies, Elle and Things to Come.) It may not matter, because most predictions point to Viola Davis coming through in the category at Oscar time for her performance in Fences ‐ category fraud criticisms notwithstanding (many see her role as leading).

No matter who gets the most and who gets the top prizes of the awards season, it’s clear there were a lot of strong performances from actresses this year. That said, the Critics’ Choice nominees in particular leave something to be desire beyond those 12 lead and supporting categories. The unisex category for best young actor/actress (aged 21 and under) is balanced more toward males, which is surprising since The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy seemed to be a sure-thing there, especially after her Gotham Award for breakthrough performance. Other contenders could have been Angourie Rice for The Nice Guys, Elle Fanning for 20th Century Women, and fan favorite Lucy Boynton for Sing Street (she qualified at the time of filming).

Even worse is the showing in the BFCA’s picks for the Critics’ Choice Award for the best actress in an action movie. It’s the only category with only four nominees (best actor in an action movie has five), and while that should seem more of an issue that Hollywood needs better action movie roles for women, there’s no reason why Jessica Chastain couldn’t be there for The Huntsman: Winter’s War or Sofia Boutella for Star Trek Beyond or Jennifer Lawrence for X-Men: Apocalypse. Never mind if the movies themselves seem unworthy, since Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad aren’t either. If it doesn’t have to be an action star, there are also good lead female roles in The Legend of Tarzan, The Nice Guys, The Accountant, Deadpool, and others.

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In other surprises so far this season (particularly with the Critics’ Choice nods), it’s crazy that Jackie hasn’t received more love or buzz in all categories, baffling that The Lobster is getting only original screenplay consideration and nothing in either comedy nor sci-fi Critics’ Choice Awards categories, sad that Swiss Army Man isn’t being honored for its originality, and that terrible that Jeff Nichols was snubbed by the BFCA in the directing category and for best sci-fi movie, forgetting that his Midnight Special was also released this year in addition to Loving. Also, it’s amazing that the mediocre Sully is doing well in any category. As for wonderful surprises, there’s Andrew Garfield’s nod for best actor, Sing Street’s recognition for best song, and Don’t Think Twice getting a nod for best comedy.

Of course, we’re only at the beginning of this awards season, and anything could happen by the time we get to the Oscars. So far we’ve seen results picked mainly by film critics and an indie-focused organization. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (Golden Globes) and the Academy are both likely more interested in studio fare such as La La Land than artsier films like Moonlight. What if the Oscars do go for the former, plus Affleck, Bridges, Stone, and Williams? Then so much for the idea of squashing those “so white” criticisms. There is a good chance, though, that Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins is going to be the first black filmmaker to win the Academy Award for Best Director. Stay tuned.

And in the meantime tune in to the Critics’ Choice Awards on December 11th (I’ll be there tweeting from the inside), broadcast on A&E. Here are our film nominees for 2016:

BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Lion
Loving
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
Sully

BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck ‐ Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton — Loving
Andrew Garfield — Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling ‐ La La Land
Tom Hanks ‐ Sully
Denzel Washington ‐ Fences

BEST ACTRESS
Amy Adams ‐ Arrival
Annette Bening ‐ 20th Century Women
Isabelle Huppert — Elle
Ruth Negga — Loving
Natalie Portman ‐ Jackie
Emma Stone ‐ La La Land

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali ‐ Moonlight
Jeff Bridges ‐ Hell or High Water
Ben Foster ‐ Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges ‐ Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel ‐ Lion
Michael Shannon — Nocturnal Animals

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis — Fences
Greta Gerwig ‐ 20th Century Women
Naomie Harris — Moonlight
Nicole Kidman ‐ Lion
Janelle Monáe ‐ Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams ‐ Manchester by the Sea

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS
Lucas Hedges ‐ Manchester by the Sea
Alex R. Hibbert ‐ Moonlight
Lewis MacDougall ‐ A Monster Calls
Madina Nalwanga ‐ Queen of Katwe
Sunny Pawar ‐ Lion
Hailee Steinfeld ‐ The Edge of Seventeen

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE
20th Century Women
Fences
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

BEST DIRECTOR
Damien Chazelle — La La Land
Mel Gibson ‐ Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins ‐ Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan ‐ Manchester by the Sea
David Mackenzie ‐ Hell or High Water
Denis Villeneuve ‐ Arrival
Denzel Washington — Fences

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Damien Chazelle ‐ La La Land
Barry Jenkins ‐ Moonlight
Yorgos Lanthimos/Efthimis Filippou ‐ The Lobster
Kenneth Lonergan ‐ Manchester by the Sea
Jeff Nichols ‐ Loving
Taylor Sheridan ‐ Hell or High Water

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Luke Davies ‐ Lion
Tom Ford ‐ Nocturnal Animals
Eric Heisserer ‐ Arrival
Todd Komarnicki ‐ Sully
Allison Schroeder/Theodore Melfi ‐ Hidden Figures
August Wilson ‐ Fences

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Stéphane Fontaine ‐ Jackie
James Laxton ‐ Moonlight
Seamus McGarvey — Nocturnal Animals
Linus Sandgren ‐ La La Land
Bradford Young ‐ Arrival

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival — Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte/André Valade
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ‐ Stuart Craig/James Hambidge, Anna Pinnock
Jackie ‐ Jean Rabasse, Véronique Melery
La La Land ‐ David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
Live by Night ‐ Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

BEST EDITING
Tom Cross ‐ La La Land
John Gilbert ‐ Hacksaw Ridge
Blu Murray — Sully
Nat Sanders/Joi McMillon — Moonlight
Joe Walker ‐ Arrival

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Colleen Atwood — Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Consolata Boyle ‐ Florence Foster Jenkins
Madeline Fontaine ‐ Jackie
Joanna Johnston ‐ Allied
Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh ‐ Love & Friendship
Mary Zophres ‐ La La Land

BEST HAIR & MAKEUP
Doctor Strange
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hacksaw Ridge
Jackie
Star Trek Beyond

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
A Monster Calls
Arrival
Doctor Strange
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The Jungle Book

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Finding Dory
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
The Red Turtle
Trolls
Zootopia

BEST ACTION MOVIE
Captain America: Civil War
Deadpool
Doctor Strange
Hacksaw Ridge
Jason Bourne

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Benedict Cumberbatch ‐ Doctor Strange
Matt Damon ‐ Jason Bourne
Chris Evans ‐ Captain America: Civil War
Andrew Garfield — Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Reynolds ‐ Deadpool

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE
Gal Gadot — Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Scarlett Johansson ‐ Captain America: Civil War
Margot Robbie ‐ Suicide Squad
Tilda Swinton ‐ Doctor Strange

BEST COMEDY
Central Intelligence
Deadpool
Don’t Think Twice
The Edge of Seventeen
Hail, Caesar!
The Nice Guys

BEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY
Ryan Gosling ‐ The Nice Guys
Hugh Grant — Florence Foster Jenkins
Dwayne Johnson ‐ Central Intelligence
Viggo Mortensen ‐ Captain Fantastic
Ryan Reynolds — Deadpool

BEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY
Kate Beckinsale — Love & Friendship
Sally Field ‐ Hello, My Name Is Doris
Kate McKinnon ‐ Ghostbusters
Hailee Steinfeld ‐ The Edge of Seventeen
Meryl Streep ‐ Florence Foster Jenkins

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE
10 Cloverfield Lane
Arrival
Doctor Strange
Don’t Breathe
Star Trek Beyond
The Witch

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Elle
The Handmaiden
Julieta
Neruda
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

BEST SONG
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” ‐ La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” ‐ Trolls
“City of Stars” — La La Land
“Drive It Like You Stole It” ‐ Sing Street
“How Far I’ll Go” — Moana
“The Rules Don’t Apply “— Rules Don’t Apply

BEST SCORE
Nicholas Britell — Moonlight
Jóhann Jóhannsson ‐ Arrival
Justin Hurwitz ‐ La La Land
Micachu ‐ Jackie
Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka — Lion

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