2023 Oscars: Best Actress Predictions


Awards perennials Frances McDormand, Jessica Chastain, and Regina King are back in the Oscar race.

We will update these predictions throughout awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2023 Oscar picks. Nominations voting is from January 12 to January 17, 2023, with official Oscar nominations announced on January 24, 2023. The final voting is March 2 through 7, 2023. And finally, the 94th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 pm ET/ 5:00 pm PT.

The State of the Race

Per usual, this year’s Best Actress contest leans into that Oscar staple, the biopic. Oscar winners who played real people include Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf (“La Vie en Rose”), Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash (“Walk the Line”), Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn (“The Aviator”), Olivia Colman as Queen Anne (“The Favourite”) and most recently, Jessica Chastain as televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”

This year’s crop includes Chastain as the heroic title character in Tobias Lindholm’s adaptation of Charles Graeber’s 2013 non-fiction thriller “The Good Nurse” (October, Netflix), a TIFF debut. Carey Mulligan could follow up her recent nomination for “Promising Young Woman” with her role as real-life New York Times reporter Megan Twohey in “She Said” (Universal). Never-nominated Ana de Armas channels Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s racy Venice premiere “Blonde” (Netflix). “Till” (UA Releasing) stars emerging actress Danielle Deadwyler (“Station Eleven”) as the activist mother of slain teenager Emmett Till. And Oscar winner Regina King plays Shirley Chisholm, America’s first Black congresswoman, in “Shirley” (Netflix), from “Twelve Years a Slave” Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley.

“The Woman King”

Sony

Several contenders have won the Oscar before. Colman gets romantic with fellow Oscar winner Colin Firth in Sam Mendes’ ode to cinema past, Venice entry “Empire of Light” (Searchlight). Blanchett returns to contention in Todd Field’s “TAR” (Focus) as the title character Lydia Tar, the fictional story of the first woman to become chief conductor of a German orchestra. Three-time winner Frances McDormand is also back in the fray, as producer and star of Sarah Polley’s Mennonite sexual assault drama “Women Talking” (Plan B, UA Releasing), and she’s joined in the cast by previous Oscar nominees Rooney Mara and Jessie Buckley, who could wind up in the Supporting Actress category. (The movie plays Venice and TIFF.)

“Fences” Oscar winner Viola Davis transforms herself into an African warrior in TIFF premiere “The Woman King” (Sony). “The English Patient” Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche is back as a woman attracted to two men in Claire Denis’ Berlin Director-winner “Both Sides of the Blade” (IFC), a possible French Oscar submission along with Mia Hansen-Love’s Cannes entry “One Fine Morning” (SPC), starring never-nominated Lea Seydoux as a beleaguered single mother.

Two-time Oscar nominee Sally Hawkins is long overdue; she plays an amateur historian doggedly searching for the remains of Richard III in Stephen Frears’ “The Lost King” (BBC Films), co-written by her co-star, Steve Coogan. “Little Women” Supporting Actress nominee Florence Pugh has two fall movies this year: Olivia Wilde’s agit-prop ensemble comedy “Don’t Worry Darling” (Warner Bros.), and Sebastian Lelio’s adaptation of “The Wonder,” Emma Donoghue’s novel about a nurse trying to save a child from starving. And two-time nominee Margot Robbie stars in both David O. Russell’s ensemble comedy “Amsterdam” and Damien Chazelle’s period Tinseltown revel, “Babylon.”

Keke Palmer as Emerald Haywood in Nope, written, produced and directed by Jordan Peele.

Keke Palmer as Emerald Haywood in Nope, written, produced and directed by Jordan Peele.

Universal Pictures

A First Acting Nomination

Writing and directing nominee Greta Gerwig will be chasing her first acting nomination as the wife of suburban college professor Adam Driver in her partner Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s “White Noise” (Netflix), which opens the Venice and New York film festivals. Rising star Dakota Johnson earned raves for her performance in Cooper Raiff’s Sundance breakout “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (AppleTV+). Keke Palmer stole “Nope” from Oscar-winner Daniel Kaluuya, who plays her horse-riding brother in Jordan Peele’s latest box-office success ($87 million domestic).

And Hong Kong action star Michelle Yeoh, who is best-known by Academy voters for her roles in Bond film “Tomorrow is Another Day” and Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” displayed her remarkable range as a dramatic actress and slapstick comedienne in A24’s smash mother-daughter action comedy “Everything Everywhere All at Once” ($100 million worldwide). Paying your dues can sometimes yield overdue recognition from the Academy.

Another Ang Lee veteran, his “Lust, Caution” star Tang Wei, plays an alluring femme fatale who falls for a homicide detective who thinks she committed murder in Cannes director-winner Park Chan-Wook’s likely Korean Oscar submission “Decision to Leave” ( mubi). And “Phantom Thread” star Vicky Krieps won the Un Certain Regard Best Actress prize at Cannes as volatile Empress Sisi in Maria Kreutzer’s likely Austrian Oscar entry “Corsage” (IFC). One Cannes title will have to wait: A24 is holding Kelly Reichardt’s “Showing Up” (A24), starring long overdue four-time nominee Michelle Williams, for 2023.

Vicky Krieps as Empress Sisi in “Corsage.”

Cannes

Oscar contenders are listed in alphabetical order. Only movies I have seen will be deemed front runners.

front runners:
Dakota Johnson (“Cha Cha Real Smooth”)
Vicky Krieps (“Corsage”)
Keke Palmer (“Nope”)
Tang Wei (“Decision to Leave”)
Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)

contestants
Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”)
Cate Blanchett (“TAR”)
Jessica Chastain (“The Good Nurse”)
Olivia Colman (“Empire of Light”)
Viola Davis (“The Woman King”)
Ana de Armas (“Blonde”)
Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”)
Greta Gerwig (“White Noise”)
Regina King (“Shirley”)
Carey Mulligan (“She Said”)
Florence Pugh (“Don’t Worry Darling,” “The Wonder”)
Margot Robbie (“Amsterdam,” “Babylon”)
Tang Wei (“Decision to Leave”)

Long shots:
Naomi Ackie (“I Wanna Dance with Somebody”)
Juliette Binoche (“Both Sides of the Blade”)
Emma Corrin (“Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” “My Policeman”)
Charlbi Dean (“Triangle of Sadness”)
Sally Hawkins (“The Lost King”)
Zoe Kazan (“She Said”)
Jennifer Lawrence (“Causeway”)
Taylor Russell (“Bones and All”)
Zoe Saldana (“Avatar: The Way of Water”)
Lea Seydoux (“One Fine Morning”)
Anya Taylor Joy (“The Menu”)

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