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Oscars 2020 predictions: the Best Actress frontrunners

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With every new awards season, there's one category that shapes up as especially unpredictable. This year it's the Oscar for Best Actress, which could mix some surprise dark horse contenders with past winners.

Here are some possible contenders for the Best Actress Academy Award...

1. Jennifer Lopez

It's been a long time since J Lo scored a critical hit in front of the camera – truth be told, it was likely 1998 crime film Out of Sight, co-starring George Clooney. But the actress and pop diva has stunned the critics at the Toronto Film Festival with her performance in Hustlers.

Lopez is said to give a gritty and commanding performance as Ramona, the self-appointed leader of a group of strippers who make the bold decision to fleece their wealthy Wall Street clients. She appears alongside Crazy Rich Asians star Constance Wu, and reviewers have praised Lopez's ability to get beneath the skin of a difficult character.

"A Best Actress Oscar nomination for Jennifer Lopez? You better believe it," writes Pete Travers in Rolling Stone. "As a stripper who can work a pole better than rivals half her age, Lopez is that dazzling, that deep, that electrifying. This you don't want to miss."

You can judge Lopez's performance for yourself when Hustlers is released in Cineworld on 13th September.


2. Lupita Nyong'o

It would be shameful were Lupita Nyongo'o's masterful performance in Us ignored this year. The 12 Years a Slave Oscar winner walks a tightrope of emotional and physical complexity in Jordan Peele's acclaimed comedy-horror, playing a loving mother and wife, and her dark shadow half who emerges to wreak vengeance.

Portraying both the afflicted Adelaide and the equally persecuted (but for horribly different reasons) Red, the latter with an unforgettable rasp of a voice, Nyong'o is magnificent.

This is a dual role whose subtlety and intelligence becomes more apparent on repeat viewing, particularly when one considers the implications of the twist ending. Every facet of Nyongo's role(s) is coded with double-meaning, allowing horror to be read as tragedy, and sincerity to be read as disingenuous.




3. Saoirse Ronan

In spite of her youthful 25 years, Saoirse Ronan has amassed one of the most impressive CVs of any actor working today. From her breakout in Joe Wright's Atonement through to her heartbreaking work in Brooklyn, Ronan has demonstrated a capacity for sincerity and empathy.

Yet despite three Oscar nominations for Best Actress, she's never held the trophy aloft. However, that could all change with her performance in Little Women, the adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel that reunites Ronan with Lady Bird writer-director Greta Gerwig.

Let's not forget, Lady Bird earned Ronan one of her three Oscar nods, and demonstrated that she and Gerwig were a formidable dramatic team. There's every chance that Ronan's turn as Jo March, one of the four March sisters advancing towards adulthood, could clinch the coveted gong that's so far eluded her.

Little Women is released in Cineworld on 26th December.


4. Awkwafina

In the course of just a few short years, YouTuber turned movie scene-stealer Awkwafina has made quite the name for herself. She's probably best known for her mischievous comic turns in the likes of Ocean's 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, but she sheds that amusing persona for affecting drama in the critically acclaimed The Farewell.

It's always fascinating when an actor breaks the mold and displays another side to their talents. Critics agree that's exactly what Awkwafina does here, playing a Chinese-born, American-raised woman who returns to China to be with her ailing grandmother.

Writing for Time Out, reviewer Tomris Laffly describes Awkwafina's performance as "thoughtful.. career-revising", and there's every chance the Academy will sit up and take notice.

The Farewell is released on 20th September. (Don't forget about our Cineworld Unlimited screening of The Farewell on 16th September.)



5. Renee Zellweger

In 2003, Renee Zellweger clinched the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her rootin' tootin' turn in Cold Mountain. Can she get her hands on the even more coveted Best Actress gong for her performance in Judy?

Zellweger portrays Judy Garland, the icon of Hollywood who lit up both stage and screen. Famed for masterpieces The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St Louis, Garland's vibrant screen persona was off-set by addiction and inner demons. And critics say Zellweger (who does all her own singing) gets to grips with this complex dynamic tremendously well.

Writes Johanna Schneller in The Globe and Mail: "This is one of those solo turns where the star performance matters more than the story, and Renee Zellweger, playing the legendary singer Judy Garland in her sad last months - broke, anxious, drunk, rueful, but still in it - gives it everything she's got."

Judy is released on 4th October, preceded by our Judy Cineworld Unlimited screening on 4th October.



Who are you tipping for the Best Actress Oscar in 2020? The ceremony gets underway on 9th February, so let us know your thoughts @Cineworld.