Swift may benefit from the fact that she is not competing with anyone who is seriously overdue for an album of the year win; five of this year’s finalists are first-time nominees in the category. Coldplay and Post Malone are both nominated in the category for the second time, but neither is widely seen as seriously overdue for an album of the year win. Swift would have had a much harder climb if the nominations had included such overdue artists as Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé, both of whom have been nominated for album of the year three times (as lead artists) without winning.
While several Oscar pundits think McDormand’s performance is so strong that she will win, two factors may make that difficult. McDormand won her second Oscar, for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, just three years ago. If McDormand wins, it will be the first time someone has won two best actress awards in the space of four years since Jodie Foster did so for The Accused (1988) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
McDormand’s first best actress award was for Fargo (1998).
Also, Viola Davis, nominated for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, has yet to win an Oscar in a lead category. Her only Oscar, for Fences, was for best supporting actress. Davis has won for lead actress at the Tony Awards (for Fences, in the same role for which she won a supporting Oscar) and the Emmy Awards (for her hit series How to Get Away With Murder), but not yet at the Oscars. That’s an anomaly many Oscar voters will want to address.
Other likely nominees for best actress, according to leading Oscar pundits, include Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman, Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman and Zendaya for Malcolm & Marie.
Other strong candidates include Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Sophia Loren for The Life Ahead, Kate Winslet for Ammonite, Nicole Beharie for Miss Juneteenth and Michelle Pfeiffer for French Exit.
Pfeiffer is also overdue for an Oscar, with three nods without a win. Mulligan has been nominated once without a win.
The Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15, the morning after the Grammys are presented at Staples Center in Los Angeles. (As a result, Grammy winners won’t have long to bask in their victories before much of the media’s attention will shift.) Grammy voting closed on Jan. 4.