Best actress is always one of the most fun Oscar categories to watch, and this year has turned into a chaotic and repeatedly shocking race. Right out of the gate, the touted duel between Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) and Emma Stone (“La La Land”) was interrupted with a surprise win by French icon Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) in the best actress in a drama category at the Golden Globes. This killed Portman’s chance at good buzz going into the nominations period and may have cast a pall over the rest of her Oscar campaign, entirely to the benefit of Stone.
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Portman’s hopes for an Oscar seem to be diminishing day by day. She didn’t win when it counted at the Globes, or at the Screen Actors Guild last weekend, and barring a bailout by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, she’s going into Oscar night tied with someone — Huppert — who wasn’t even nominated by SAG or the Britons, according to our Oscar model.
And barring a — you know what? I’m better than a “Black Swan event” pun here — difficult to predict occurrence that deviates from statistical norms for Portman, her bid for best actress is likely kaput.
Unless Meryl Streep descends like a vengeful Valkyrie to claim the prize in a stupendous and awesome spectacle of thunder and light, it looks like Stone could have this one all wrapped up with a win at BAFTA.