Once a star gets on a streak, Oscars loves to bring them back. Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Octavia Spencer all showed up at the Oscars with nominations this year after previously being nominated last year.
This year saw an abundance of talent from all different sides of the entertainment world. Many young actors were awarded for their breakout success (Timothee Chalamet, Daniel Kaluuya) or continued prowess (Saoirse Ronan). Veterans received their upteenth nomination (Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington). Even TV and theater actors made their way to film to duke it out (Allison Janney vs. Laurie Metcalf). Who would’ve expected Mary J. Blige to figure into the acting races at this time last year?
With so much talent receiving such acclaim, who will ride that momentum to a consecutive Oscar nomination next year? We ranked the 20 performers to find out.
Saoirse Ronan shows no signs of slowing down. First up is the adaptation of the Anton Chekov play “The Seagull.” Ronan leads an all star cast that consists of Annette Bening, Elisabeth Moss, Corey Stoll and many others. This isn’t the only mid-May prestige picture Ronan has planned. Ronan returns to the work of novelist Ian McEwan (who also wrote “Atonement”) with “On Chesil Beach.” The romantic drama finds Ronan in an idyllic marriage to a poorer man (Samuel West) who discovers her own sexual freedom. The film received mildly positive reviews out of Toronto, but critics all agreed that Ronan excels in her star turn.
Perhaps her best bet at another nomination comes from “Mary Queen of Scots,” with her in the titular role. The film’s director, Josie Rourke, makes her US film debut here, so we will have to wait and see. The script, however, is written by Oscar nominee Beau Willimon (“The Ides of March”). Jennifer Lawrence holds the record for the youngest performer to have four nominations at age 25. If Saoirse manages a nomination for any of her projects this year, she beats Lawrence for that title.
2. Willem Dafoe
While he fell short of winning for “The Florida Project,” Dafoe might be back in contention again. Dafoe teams up with Academy Award-nominated director Julian Schnabel for “At Eternity’s Gate,” which tackles the story of Vincent Van Gogh. With “Loving Vincent” reaping an Animated Feature nomination, the Academy seems interested in the story of Vincent Van Gogh. In the titular role, Dafoe stands a good chance at riding an overdue narrative to a win if the film turns out well. His role as advisor and scientist Nuidius Vulko in “Aquaman” may not be the things nominations are made of. However, it could help raise his profile to get him that win for “At Eternity’s Gate.”
3. Sam Rockwell
While it didn’t work for Josh Brolin, Sam Rockwell hopes to be back at the Oscars for playing George W. Bush in “Backseat,” the story of Dick Cheney. While Adam McKay was originally a comedy director, this marks his much anticipated follow up to “The Big Short,” which was a big Oscar player. After winning his first Oscar for playing a racist cop, Rockwell plans to play yet another malicious racist. In “The Best of Enemies,” Rockwell plays C.P. Ellis, Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, who is taken to task by civil rights leader Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson). While this is the first film by writer/director Robin Bissell, the subject matter could propel both Rockwell and Henson into the Oscar conversation.
Rockwell’s animated efforts (“The One and Only Ivan” and “The Adventures of Drunky”) and upcoming comedy (“Blue Iguana”) won’t get much awards play. However, he seems to be turning this recent Oscar win into plenty of interesting work.
4. Timothee Chalamet
Up next for Chalamet is “A Rainy Day in New York,” the latest Woody Allen project. What normally would be a promising upcoming project now potentially might not get a traditional release. Chalamet already has donated his paycheck to charity in the wake of the “Times Up” and “Me Too” movements. Much more likely is a nomination for the drug addict drama “Beautiful Boy,” also starring Steve Carell and Maura Tierney. The film tells the story of a father dealing with his son’s meth addiction and recovery. Timmy takes on the role of the drug-addicted son, which is the kind of transformative, dramatic role Oscar typically takes notice of. The film marks the English language debut of Felix Van Groeningen, director of Foreign Language nominee “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” while the script is written by Oscar nominee Luke Davies (“Lion”).
The breakout “Get Out” star continues to have a banner year in 2018. Already he stars in “Black Panther,” the groundbreaking Marvel hit of the year. While best in show has been going primarily to co-star Michael B. Jordan, Kaluuya still equips himself well in the film. What’s even more exciting is his involvement in “Widows,” the new Steve McQueen film. Written and directed by the “12 Years a Slave” helmer (also co-written by Gillian Flynn), the film sports the best casts of 2018. Kaluuya joins Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debecki, Carrie Coon, Colin Farrell, Jacki Weaver, Liam Neeson, Garrett Dillahunt, Robert Duvall, Brian Tyree Henry and Andre Holland. The film finds four women bonded together after a debt left by their dead husbands. If Kaluuya stands out in the ensemble, he could be back at the Dolby next year.
When can we rescue Margot Robbie from DC? On her IMDB, she already has four potential films where she reprises the role of Harley Quinn – Untitled Standalone Harley Quinn Film, Untitled Joker-Harley Quinn Project, Gotham City Sirens and Suicide Squad 2. Never before has a sequel to an Oscar-winning film sounded so bad. As if that wasn’t enough, Robbie adds another potential franchise to her corner. In “Marian,” Robbie plays a mourning Maid Marian who wages war to avenge her Robin Hood. Still, Robbie keeps busy with other projects which could help her contend again for Oscars. She co-stars with fellow nominee Saoirse Ronan in “Mary Queen of Scots.” Photos already show Robbie transformed as Queen Elizabeth I. The role appears to have everything Oscar loves – actor transformation, period piece and royal monarchy. Her other projects – “Dreamland” and “Terminal” – seem too small or niche to make a dent.
IF THE RIGHT PROJECT TURNS OUT
Even at 88 years old, Christopher Plummer shows no signs of slowing down. Most promising may be Plummer’s role in “Boundless,” which recalls Alan Arkin’s Oscar-winning role. Plummer plays Jack, a pot-smoking Grandpa who goes on a road trip with his estranged daughter (Vera Farmiga) and grandson (Lewis MacDougall). Directed by Shana Feste (“Country Strong,” “Endless Love”), there is a possibility “Boundless” winds up not figuring into the awards conversation. However, if that falters, his role as a Father in the war drama “The Last Full Measure” could be the ticket to his next nomination. If Vietnam war films aren’t the Academy’s taste this year, Plummer also has “Cliffs of Freedom,” set during the 1820s Greek War of Independence and marking the directorial debut of visual effects artist Van Ling.
What award can’t Laurie Metcalf contend for? Right now, you can see Metcalf light up Broadway in “Three Tall Women,” also starring Glenda Jackson and Allison Pill. By the end of the month, Metcalf will reprise her role of Aunt Jackie in “Roseanne,” a role which won her three Emmys. In terms of film, Metcalf is rumored to star in the drama “Memphis Sun.” The film tells the story of a teenage girl struggling with bullying and bulimia. Metcalf would play yet another complicated mother, although this one would struggle with depression and alcoholism. If this project turns out, Metcalf could contend for a Tony, Emmy, and Oscar all for 2018 works.
MAYBE NEXT YEAR
Octavia Spencer shouldn’t expect for much to come of the TV movie “Divergent” finale. Other than that, she has “Luce,” starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth, which casts her as a supportive teacher to a politically-charged, adopted black man. Spencer may not reap her fourth nomination in 2018. However, 2019 promises to be different as she headlines Tate Taylor’s (“The Help”) twisty thriller “Ma,” which promises her a juicy role. With Daniel Kaluuya nabbing an Oscar nomination for his role in “Get Out,” the Academy seems ready to reward horror performances.
IF THEY GO POPULIST
When doesn’t Meryl Streep get nominated for an Oscar? Removing voice-over work, shorts, and uncredited cameos, Streep has received 21 nominations out of 54 performances. Roughly 39% of the time Meryl graces the screen, she gets an Oscar nomination. However, 2018 looks to be an off-year, in terms of Oscar potential. She stars in “Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again” in July. While she managed a Golden Globe nod for the 2008 original, the new film seems to take place after her character’s death (possibly) and Streep will be in the film much less. Her other film project this year is “Mary Poppins Returns,” where Streep plays a character named Topsy. Topsy doesn’t sound like Oscar nomination number 22. We may see Streep at the Emmys sooner, as she joins Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon in Monterey for “Big Little Lies” season 2.
Woody Harrelson wants to break the box office more than he wants to win his first Oscar. At least that’s how it seems with his 2018 slate. Harrelson has key roles in two 2018 blockbusters currently slated. First up is the role of Tobias Beckett in “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” with “Venom” coming in the Fall. It seems unlikely either will get him to the Oscars unless the over-perform drastically with audiences and critics alike.
Sally Hawkins already stars in “Paddington 2,” so she should get her Oscar speech ready. The film features a swimming subplot that involves Hawkins doing some major underwater action to rescue Paddington. Gold statues should follow. All joking aside, the only other project Hawkins has this year is “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which is a bit outside Oscar’s purview. I’m happy Sally Hawkins is getting those blockbuster paychecks. Hopefully, 2019 will provide more of the indie darling we all love.
WRONG AWARDS SHOW
While the big screen treated her well in 2017, Oscar winner Allison Janney returns to the small screen for 2018. She reprises her Emmy winning role as recovering addict Bonnie in “Mom” on CBS. Additionally, she continues her work on the web-series “Break a Hip.”
Mary J. Blige
The Grammy award-winning singer may not have fully caught the acting bug. No disrespect meant to what I’m sure is a meaty role in the upcoming “Sherlock Gnomes.” However, Blige does have something exciting happening on Netflix. Blige has joined the sprawling cast of “The Umbrella Academy” as Cha Cha, a time-traveling assassin. While Emmys haven’t embraced the Netflix superhero genre, Blige will surely raise her acting profile among the fanboys who haven’t seen “Mudbound” yet.
Our favorite no-nonsense sister seems to be sticking to the TV for the near future. She currently chews up the scenery with Samantha Morton with the period melodrama “Harlots” on Hulu. Over in the UK, she commands the title role of “Mum,” a comedy about a widow moving on after the death of her husband. No projects are set to bring her back to movies, but let’s hope Mike Leigh or Paul Thomas Anderson have another juicy role lined up for her.
Between “Fences” and “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” the Oscars are really in love with Denzel right now. With eight acting nominations, the Oscars have always loved Denzel. All that Denzel has coming in 2018 is “The Equalizer 2.” Looks like every hot streak comes to an end. He’ll be back, just not next year.
Gary Oldman should get cozy with his new Oscar, as he’s not gonna win another next year. His first post-Oscar project is the Gerard Butler action film “Hunter Killer.” It’s unlikely a Gerard Butler action movie or something called “Hunter Killer” will figure into the awards race. A haunted boat film named “Mary” seems just as unlikely as well.
Frances seems in no rush to go back to the Oscars. Her sole upcoming project is a voice role in Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs.” Perhaps she can contend at the Emmys for her Oscar speech?
Character actor Richard Jenkins has appeared in over 100 roles over his career. Right now, he remains committed to the Epix show “Berlin Station” and has no more announced upcoming projects. However, it shouldn’t be long before he pops up in another film.
Three-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis announced his retirement following “Phantom Thread.” While he assures us this is it for him, there may always be a comeback waiting to happen.