This category is far more unpredictable than is typically the case at this point in the race. Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) feels safest after scoring wins at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, and she’s likely to be joined by the other two women to score bids from both those groups, BAFTA, and the Screen Actors Guild: Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Jamie Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once). Given the popularity of the latter film, Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once), who was cited by the CCA and SAG, is a good bet to be nominated too. That leaves just one spot. The Golden Globes chose Dolly De Leon (Triangle of Sadness) and Carey Mulligan (She Said), while SAG picked Hong Chau (The Whale), and all three were selected by SAG. The CCA opted for Janelle Monáe (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) and Jessie Buckley (Women Talking). The latter film has been having a massively disappointing awards run this season, and, for a while, Claire Foy (Women Talking) also seemed like a safe bet, and now, miserably, it seems like neither actress is going to make the cut. From the BAFTA longlist, the only other real threat is Lashana Lynch (The Woman King), who could surprise provided her film does very well, but that doesn’t seem likely to be the case now. Nina Hoss (Tár) has the benefit of being in a film that’s expected to do very well, but her precursor performance hasn’t been very strong. Similarly, Gabrielle Union (The Inspection) would need a big boost for her film to crack the top five, and it doesn’t seem like early critics’ group wins for Keke Palmer (Nope) will be front-and-center in voters’ minds. It’s always possible that, following her snub by SAG, Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans), the onetime predicted frontrunner in this category, will be downgraded from the lead actress race, but that doesn’t feel too likely.
Predictions: Bassett, Condon, Curtis, De Leon, Hsu