It was a big weekend for Best Actress nominee Kristen Stewart. First, she accepted the American Riviera Award, given for “outstanding achievement in film” at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, one of those fetes that is a highlight of awards season. She wore a sheer Chanel dress that reminds me a lot of Lady Mary Charteris’s wedding dress (which was designed by Pam Hogg). Not unlike Palm Springs, there are a lot of Academy members up in Santa Barbara, so this is definitely working the room for the Oscars. After SBIFF, it was off the Independent Spirit Awards, where she was a presenter, again in Chanel, and participating in the free-wheeling statement making of the night:


Jessica Chastain took the momentum following her surprise SAG win, and this weekend is the double header of the BAFTAs and the Critics Choice Awards. Neither Chastain nor KStew are nominated for the BAFTAs, and both are nominated for the CCAs. Oscar voting then opens the following week on March 17, so there is still plenty of time for the momentum to shift again. Jessica Chastain has a little bit of “it’s her time” energy going for her, and she’s in a substantially less weird film than Spencer. The Academy, even after the membership expansion, still isn’t the most adventurous voting body, especially when it comes to acting, where they frequently reward the “most” acting, not the “best” acting. Chastain is definitely doing a LOT of acting in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

But I won’t count out KStew. She grew up in the industry, even before she started acting. There are a lot of people in that room on that night that have known her most, if not all, of her life. The Oscars claim to be a meritocracy, but it is a popularity contest. Jessica Chastain, Nicole Kidman, Olivia Colman, and Penelope Cruz are all very popular, that what makes this race so wide open this year—everyone nominated is well liked. But Kristen Stewart is popular, too. She grew up in front of these people. And sometimes that proud grandparent energy is hard to beat.