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Oscars 2024: Emma Stone and Lily Gladstone to Sandra Hüller and Carey Mulligan, a guide to Best Actress

Mar 06, 2024 09:07 AM IST

Oscars 2024: Who will win Best Actress? Stone’s Bella Baxter or is there a chance for dark horse Sandra Hüller’s Sandra Voyter to sneak through for a win?

Oscars 2024: The Best Actress category this year is down to Emma Stone versus Lily Gladstone. Every major award of the season has gone to one of the two, while the Globes awarded both of them thanks to the split categories of Comedy and Drama. The other nominees are just as affecting featuring fiercely independent characters that refuse to be defined by their relationships to the men in their lives. (Also read: Oscars 2024: Barbie and Oppenheimer to Poor Things and Killers of the Flower Moon, a guide to Best Picture)

Annette Bening - Nyad

Emma Stone, Carey Mulligan and Lily Gladstone are all nominated in Best Actress category for the Oscars.


Annette Bening in Nyad.
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Nyad is Bening’s fourth time being nominated in a Lead performance. Unfortunately, Nyad is a run-of-the-mill biopic with nothing particularly noteworthy to hold on to. It didn’t help that the real-life Diana Nyad was mired in some controversy late last year when the veracity of her achievements came into question. Bening has had a long and storied career over four decades and some great performances which weren’t even nominated like her role in 2016’s 20th Century Women. The writing is on the wall - she’s not going to win this time either.

Lily Gladstone - Killers of the Flower Moon

Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon,
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Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon adaptation underwent a massive retooling to shift the focus from the FBI to center on the Ernest and Mollie storyline, allowing both DiCaprio and Gladstone to work their magic. Gladstone brings a calmness to Mollie that counterbalances DiCaprio’s manic energy. And it’s really her performance that allows you to believe the contradiction at the heart of their relationship. The only knock against this nomination is that it’s more of a supporting role than a lead. That being said, this is the only chance for Flower Moon to win an Oscar.

Read out interview with Lily Gladstone here.

Sandra Huller - Anatomy of a Fall

Sandra Huller in Anatomy of a Fall.

Barring Poor Things, Anatomy of a Fall is the only other movie in this list that relies so heavily on its female lead. Triet’s screenplay is carefully calibrated to give us small glimpses into the character, and Hüller skilfully uses what seems like a stereotypical German inscrutability to toggle between withholding and revealing interiority. It’s a masterclass in multilingual acting as she seamlessly moves from French to German to English, each switch being motivated by character and a calculated desire to express the right emotion. On a purely technical level, it’s easily the most impressive of all the nominated performances.

Carey Mulligan- Maestro

Carey Mulligan in Maestro.

Maestro’s title refers to the titular genius conductor Leonard Bernstein as played by Bradley Cooper. But Cooper, who also co-wrote the screenplay, smartly makes the story about the relationship between Bernstein and his wife. Mulligan is heartbreaking as Felicia Montealegre, simultaneously in love with Bernstein, but also fully aware of the fact that the openly gay Bernstein can never be wholly hers. Mulligan is especially affecting in a pivotal scene where she has a showdown with Bernstein on Thanksgiving day, an example of how even the strongest of love can sometimes be unimaginably cruel. It’s telling that Cooper chooses to end the movie on a shot of Felicia rather than Leonard, signaling her importance to the story.

Emma Stone - Poor Things

Emma Stone in Poor Things.

Poor Things’ Bella Baxter is Emma Stone’s most daring role to date. The Oscar winner has found her perfect collaborator in Yorgos Lanthimos, with whom she previously worked on The Favourite. Bella goes from having the mind of a baby to that of a full-grown adult over the span of the movie, and Stone perfectly embodies the innocence of Bella who discovers choice and pleasure, and is unencumbered by societal norms.

Honorable Mentions

These weren’t the only great performances this year. Margot Robbie’s performance as Barbie is easy to overlook given the kind of movie Barbie is. Greta Lee was magnificent in Past Lives, doing so much with her eyes, and her micro-expressions. May December’s Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman are really co-leads, embodying two poles around which the entire story orbits. And Jennifer Lawrence deserves a special shout out for her turn in No Hard Feelings, in the kind of broad comedic role that is usually ignored by the Academy.

Read more from our coverage of the Awards Season 2024 here.

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