Best Actress in a Leading Role 2015

Updated: Sept. 7, 2015



I’ll See You in My Dreams emerges as the first Oscar screener. The Sundance “comedy” starring Blythe Danner succeeded with older moviegoers despite never seeing a nationwide release. Can reviews and the apparent push from distributor Bleecker Street land Danner a nomination?

Mad Max: Fury Road wins the FIPRESCI’s Grand Prix honor, returns to IMAX. George Miller’s long-delayed entry in the Mad Max franchise just picked up one of the most prestigious prizes in film. Are we underestimating the actioner as an awards player – particularly Charlize Theron?

Sarah Silverman and Maggie Smith enter the conversation. The former will get the Spotlight Award at the Mill Valley Film Festival for the addiction drama I Smile Back; of the last five year’s eight winners, three went on to score Oscar bids. Meanwhile, Smith’s vehicle The Lady in the Van is back on the docket for a limited release on Dec. 11.

Brie Larson gets a Mill Valley tribute, too. The actress will be feted at the fest for Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, which debuted acclaim at Telluride.

By The Sea will open AFI Fest. The marital drama, helmed and written by star Angelina Jolie Pitt, will kick off the festival before hitting wide release on Nov. 13. Real-life hubby Brad Pitt co-leads the pic about a downward spiral of a marriage. While this sounds good, the last five films with this AFI spot ultimately failed to land major Oscar nods. Still, will Jolie Pitt serve as Universal’s only legitimate best-actress contender?

A Bigger Splash bumped to 2016. Guess Luca Guadagnino’s thriller won’t land Tilda Swinton a comeback nod, after all.



So crowded already. As The Weinstein Co. tries to figure out category placement for Carol leads Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Focus Features seems to wonder how they’ll handle Alicia Vikander’s Danish Girl campaign. And maybe Blythe Danner is a bigger threat than I’d expected – not that I’m complaining. Will we really see a lot of Sarah Silverman on the campaign trail this year?

OUR BRAND IS CRISISSandra Bullock as she appears in David Gordon Green’s Our Brand is Crisis (via Entertainment Weekly)


My official predictions include only performances in films set for distribution in the United States. The process of guessing who will and will not make the cut always seems to be collaborative, so feel free to leave a comment (or a tweet) that addresses any relevant concerns.

Predicted Nominees

  1. Rooney Mara for Carol (more)

  2. Cate Blanchett for Carol (more)

  3. Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl (more)

  4. Sandra Bullock for Our Brand is Crisis (more)

  5. Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn (more)

Next in Line?

  1. Carey Mulligan for Suffragette (more)
  2. Jennifer Lawrence for Joy (more)
  3. Lily Tomlin for Grandma (more)
  4. Blythe Danner for I’ll See You in My Dreams (more)
  5. Cate Blanchett for Truth (more)

Other Contenders

  1. Julianne Moore for Freeheld (more)
  2. Ellen Page for Freeheld (more)
  3. Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years (more)
  4. Emily Blunt for Sicario (more)
  5. Drew Barrymore for Miss You Already (more)
  6. Toni Collette for Miss You Already (more)
  7. Brie Larson for Room (more)
  8. Sarah Silverman for I Smile Back (more)
  9. Amy Schumer for Trainwreck (more)
  10. Elle Fanning for About Ray (more)
  11. Juliette Binoche for The 33 (more)
  12. Juliette Binoche for Clouds of Sils Maria (more)
  13. Angelina Jolie Pitt for By the Sea (more)
  14. RETURNING!!! Maggie Smith for The Lady in the Van (more)
  15. Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road (more)

Long Shots

  1. Meryl Streep for Ricki and the Flash (more)
  2. Elisabeth Moss for Queen of Earth (more)
  3. Melissa McCarthy for Spy (more)
  4. Marion Cotillard for Macbeth (more)
  5. Greta Gerwig for Mistress America (more)
  6. Mia Wasikowska for Crimson Peak (more)
  7. Julia Roberts for The Secret in Their Eyes (more)
  8. Mya Taylor for Tangerine (more)
  9. Teyonah Parris for Chi-Raq (more)
  10. Bel Powley for The Diary of a Teenage Girl (more)
  11. Helen Mirren for Woman in Gold (more)
  12. Anne Hathaway for The Intern (more)
  13. Carey Mulligan for Far from the Madding Crowd (more)


  • Viola Davis for Lila & Eve
  • Rosemarie DeWitt for Digging for Fire (more)
  • Katherine Heigl for Jenny’s Wedding (more)
  • Diane Keaton for 5 Flights Up
  • Jennifer Lopez for Lila & Eve
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Concussion – Moved to supporting
  • Taylor Schilling for The Overnight (more)
  • Emma Stone for Aloha (more)
  • Emma Stone for Irrational Man (more)
  • Tilda Swinton for A Bigger Splash – Out in May 2016
  • Anya Taylor-Joy for The Witch – Moved to 2016
  • Mia Wasikowska for Madame Bovary (more)

In Limbo

I regard these performances as ineligible at the moment, because a) the films might not hit theaters this year due to distributors’ schedules or their not being ready, or b) the films lack stateside distribution altogether. But as anyone who follows this mess knows, things can change at a moment’s notice.

  1. Nicole Kidman for Lion (more)
  2. Nicole Kidman for The Family Fang – TIFF acquisition? Watch out
  3. Kate Winslet for The Dressmaker (more)
  4. Emma Watson for Regression (more)
  5. Nicole Kidman for Queen of the Desert (more)
  6. Rooney Mara for The Secret Scripture (more)
  7. Rene Russo for Frank and Cindy (more)
  8. Alicia Vikander for The Light Between Oceans (more)
  9. Greta Gerwig for Maggie’s Plan (more)
  10. Olivia Wilde for Meadowland (more)
  11. Natalie Portman for Jane Got a Gun (more)
  12. Emma Watson for Colonia (more)
  13. Tina Fey for Fun House (more)
  14. Charlize Theron for The Last Face
  15. Juliet Stevenson for The Letters (more)
  16. Catherine Keener for The Greens are Gone (more)


  • Elle Fanning for A Storm in the Stars (more)


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