Top 10: Most Anticipated Female Performances of the Awards Season

As the fall festivals begin their announcements, and we begin to look at the potential landscape of the upcoming awards season, we begin to have our own expectations of films and performances that are heading our way.

Down below, we take a look at our most anticipated female performances coming from seemingly Oscar-bait awards players this upcoming season.  It should be stressed, we know little to nothing about these films, and in many cases, have not seen a lick of a frame from any of the films.  With that said, this is mere speculation and you should expect (as I certainly do), that other performances later this year could outperform and explode on the scene in the most profound manner.  It should also be noted that I haven’t included any performance from a film I’ve seen already.

Without further ado, check out the list with commentary down below:

1010. Vera Farmiga as “Oletha ‘Lee’ Hart” in “The Front Runner”
dir. Jason Reitman (Sony Pictures)

The talented and beautiful actress of such films as “The Departed” and “Down to the Bone” is starring alongside Hugh Jackman and J.K. Simmons in Jason Reitman’s look at the 1988 presidential race.  It’s been almost ten years since Farmiga catapulted herself to a Best Supporting Actress nomination for “Up in the Air,” also another film directed by Reitman. As the Oscar-bait role of supportive wife, and in this case, being cheated on continuously in the public eye, she has an opportunity to drum up lots of sympathy and likability from the audience.

99. Nicole Kidman as “Erin Bell” in “Destroyer”
dir. Karyn Kusama (Annapurna Pictures)

The Academy Award-winning actress of “The Hours” has had a career that actresses over 50 could dream.  After netting herself two additional nominations for “Rabbit Hole” in 2011 and “Lion” in 2017, Kidman has also found refuge in television with the critically acclaimed “Big Little Lies,” for which she also won two Emmys for Lead Actress (Limited Series) and as a producer.  In her next film “Destroyer,” in which she teams up with Karyn Kusama, who broke out on the scene in 2000 with “Girlfight,” Kidman plays a detective whose undercover sting years ago resulted in tragedy.  Co-starring Sebastian Stan and Tatiana Maslany, this could have the workings of one of her richest and most complex characters yet.

88. Mercedes McCambridge as “Maggie Noonan” in “The Other Side of the Wind”
dir. Orson Welles (Netflix)

An opportunity to recognize an Oscar-winning actress who we lost over 14 years ago?  How could we not take the opportunity?  McCambridge, who won an Academy Award for “All the King’s Men” in 1949, is teamed up with the iconic Orson Welles in the unreleased film from 1972, “The Other Side of the Wind.”  While her role as the secretary to star John Huston’s character, it’s hard to imagine there may not be a substantial amount of depth to the character but we’re open to anything at this point in the game.  Netflix, who will be releasing the film on their platform in November, will be taking the film to the Venice Film Festival for its World Premiere, which has to show confidence from the streaming giant.  At worst, it will be great to just be given the presence of Mrs. McCambridge one last time.

77. Michelle Yeoh as “Eleanor Young” in “Crazy Rich Asians”
dir. Jon M. Chu (Warner Bros.)

When you look up the term “taken for granted,” you likely will see the image and filmography of the multi-talented Michelle Yeoh sitting prominently.  The esteemed actress of such films as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and “The Lady” has been consistently delivering for years with little recognition from awards groups.  In the upcoming adaptation of the Kevin Kwan book of the same name, Yeoh plays the matriarch of a family that seems ripe with culture and plenty of laughs.  Alongside the brilliance of Constance Wu and Henry Golding, the role of Eleanor Sung-Young may present a moment to relish in the distinguished talent of one of our generation’s most prized treasures.

66. Michelle Rodriguez as “Linda” in “Widows”
dir. Steve McQueen (20th Century Fox)

Seemingly labeled as just a “badass action star,” if you dig into the roles chosen by Michelle Rodriguez, you’ll find a plethora of dynamic roles and vastly different interpretations.  Her breakout film “Girlfight” gained her notoriety on the independent circuit and led her to profitable and engaging material including “Avatar” and the “Fast and the Furious” franchise.  In the upcoming film from the director of the Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave” and the writer of “Gone Girl,” Rodriguez plays a widow of a bank robber, and if the first trailer was any indication, Rodriguez may have some scenery to chew opposite Viola Davis.  It should also be worth noting that Latin representation in the acting category is still sorely lacking with only Rita Moreno being the only Supporting Actress winner (“West Side Story”) of Latina heritage in the Academy’s 90-year history.  It’s about time we have some more.

55. Saoirse Ronan as “Mary Stuart” in “Mary Queen of Scots”
dir. Josie Rourke (Focus Features)

24 years old and Saoirse Ronan has already created a legacy for herself.  Ronan is the 7th youngest Best Supporting Actress nominee ever for “Atonement” and the 8th youngest Best Actress nominee for “Brooklyn.”  If she’s nominated once again this year, she still beat the record set by Jennifer Lawrence in 2015 as the youngest actress to garner four Oscar nominations ever.  With that said, we look at her upcoming role as Mary, the cousin of Queen Elizabeth I.  Based on the first trailer, we’re in for some fiery exchanges and some goddess-like acting from the Irish actress.  One year following “Lady Bird,” for which she won a Golden Globe, she’s quickly ascended into the overdue territory.

44. Margot Robbie as “Queen Elizabeth I” in “Mary Queen of Scots”
dir. Josie Rourke (Focus Features)

How can we include one of the actresses from Josie Rourke’s upcoming biopic without including the other?  Margot Robbie, who is fresh off her first nomination for “I, Tonya,” has swiftly become one of the most sought-after actresses working in Hollywood.  While her role has been much more revered in the awards world, Robbie has a chance to make it her own.  There may be natural comparisons to other Oscar-nominated and winning performances like Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, the last time Elizabeth I was depicted during this time period was in 1940’s German film “Das Herz der Königin.”  (“Young Bess” from 1953 also focused on the early years and was played by Jean Simmons)  We look forward to Robbie ripping the scene to shreds, instituting her own sensibilities that have made her so successful.

33. Olivia Colman as “Queen Anne” in “The Favourite”
dir. Yorgos Lanthimos (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Another period piece and another Queen, this time played by the gifted Olivia Colman, who has been a harmonious force for years now.  Paired with the dry but savory words of Yorgos Lanthimos, Colman looks to set the screen ablaze based on the first trailer.  With an opening slot at the New York Film Festival, and a space at the Venice Film Festival, Colman could lock herself into what looks to be another banner year for Best Actress, if that’s where she ends up campaigning.  With three strong actresses in play (Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz), campaign selection will be key to the success of any of them making their way to the Dolby Theatre.

22. Kiki Layne as “Tish” in “If Beale Street Could Talk”
dir. Barry Jenkins (Annapurna Pictures)

One of the worst things we could do in the fight for equality and diversity in Hollywood is to become complacent with our progress.  Roles for women of color are not as robust as they should be but we can celebrate when we get a seemingly great one in our midst.  Barry Jenkins, who co-wrote and directed the Oscar-winning “Moonlight,” is now adapting the fifth novel by James Baldwin and has assembled another impressive cast including Regina King, Teyonah Paris, and the subject of this ranking, Kiki Layne.

Playing Clementine “Tish” Rivers, a woman who is in love with Fonny (played by Stephan James) who is falsely accused of rape.  While he awaits his trial, Tish finds out she’s pregnant and races against the clock with her lawyer to prove his innocence.  Newcomer Kiki Layne is making her feature film debut and is already generating excitement due to the upcoming slate of directors she’ll be working with over the next two years.  The aforementioned Jenkins is first on the agenda before she teams up with Rupert Wyatt on “Captive State” and Rashid Johnson’s hotly anticipated “Native Son” next year.  Here’s to the hopeful birth of another outstanding actress of color in our industry.

11. Lady Gaga as “Ally” in “A Star Is Born”
dir. Bradley Cooper (Warner Bros.)

Singing and acting come naturally to few but what Lady Gaga has seemed to drum up with her upcoming turn in Bradley Cooper’s remake of “A Star is Born” is palpable within the industry.  Co-writing songs with Cooper should make her a default choice in the Original Song race but her seemingly shy and fragile Ally in the film’s first trailer showed a side of Gaga we haven’t seen before.  Looking to emulate a blend of Marisa Tomei and Barbra Streisand, who starred in the third remake of the beloved classic, Gaga may forge an opportunity to go down the same road as Cher, as another singer-turned-actress who went on to Oscar glory.  Let’s see how heartbreaking Ally can be for the viewer.

Share your own anticipated performances in the comments below!

Check out the latest Oscar Predictions for LEAD ACTRESS and SUPPORTING ACTRESS to see where these ten women rank!