Who Are The Frontrunners For The 2021 Oscars Best Actress?

The Oscars are experiencing some big changes this year. On April 25 the world will see its 93rd Academy Awards show, but it will be like none other. For example, for the first time in Oscars history, the best-director category has a female majority of nominees. The awards show is making huge waves in terms of increasing the diversity of its nominees, both in terms of gender and race. This year’s Oscars may just be the most diverse we’ve seen yet.

As women seem to be headlining the Oscars already, let’s jump right into the predictions for Best Actress! Although 2020 was a year like none other—and certainly not in a good way—it was by no means missing out on great, powerful female roles.

This year’s frontrunners for Best Actress are the following:

Frances McDormand – Nomadland

Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman

Amy Adams – Hillbilly Elegy

Read on for a rundown of each of these powerful ladies’ performances!


As it stands right now, Frances McDormand’s performance in Nomadland appears to be an extremely strong candidate for the taking. McDormand made an emotional performance with her grieving character in this indie film. She plays a woman that goes on a solo journey out West after losing everything during the recession. This film is expected to make big waves upon its release on February 19, and McDormand may very well take the cake for this year’s Best Actress. It wouldn’t be this skilled actress’s first time winning such an award; she’s done so in 2018 on Three Billboards.


Viola Davis stands a solid chance alongside McDormand for the shot at taking home the Oscar. Davis starred in the drama Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom that released in Ireland in December of 2020. Viola Davis plays an intense role as a blues singer, and her performance tugged at the heartstrings of critics everywhere. According to Jennifer Green of Common Sense Media, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is a tough film made more emotionally intense by the actor’s soulful performances and the hard truths at the core of the story.” Additionally being pronounced “superb” and “timeless” by various other critics, this film earned a hearty 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences are hit with an even more powerful punch to the gut of emotions as they see the late Chadwick Boseman starring in his last ever film.


Carey Mulligan stands her ground with Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman. Having just been released on January 25, this film has already been met with largely positive feedback from critics and audiences alike, receiving an optimistic 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Acting alongside Bo Burnham, Carey Mulligan makes an outstanding performance in this tragic comedy. Promising Young Woman has a light tone on very serious subjects, making its focus on rape culture but masked as a “thrilling revenge story,” as worded by Molly Freeman on Screen Rant.


There is also a chance that the award will go to Vanessa Kirby, who gave an emotional performance in the heartbreaking Netflix drama Pieces of a Woman. This grief-filled film follows a woman whose life and marriage seemingly fall apart after the tragic death of her newborn. Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf are paired in this film that tugs on the heartstrings of parents everywhere, and this raw and painful performance on Kirby’s part just might be enough for her to bring home an award on April 25.


Lastly, Amy Adams fights for her shot at the Oscar with her performance in Hillbilly Elegy. Having been nominated for an Oscar 6 times thus far, it’s hardly a surprise she’s ended up on the Best Actress list this year. Hillbilly Elegy received mixed reviews, but there’s no denying that Adams absolutely rocked her performance as a mother struggling with substance abuse. Critics believe that the film had a great premise but fell short in some areas, but this could be overlooked as Adams executed her role in an unforgettable fashion.

There are many more names that critics believe may earn a nomination, such as Academy favorite Kate Winslet and starlet Sofia Loren. Even stars such as Elisabeth Moss and Julia Garner are expected to see recognition for their incredible roles this past year.

As always, the Oscars can make unexpected decisions and even our best guesses could turn out false (although over here we are feeling fairly confident with our frontrunners!) Oscar nominations will be announced on March 15, and after that there will only be a month until the much-awaited ceremony. We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to be huddled around the television set once again to see our favorite celebs and starlets! With this powerful female lineup, we’re sure this year’s Academy Awards will not disappoint.

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