Best Actress chaos continues, thanks largely to the BAFTAs, where none of the Oscar nominees were cross-nominated, leaving the Brits free to make a choice unburdened by Oscar hopes and dreams. 


They rewarded Joanna Scanlan for After Love, and then the Critics’ Choice Awards broke for Jessica Chastain (full disclosure: I am a voting member of the CCA). Momentum continues to build behind Chastain, but Kristen Stewart will NOT be counted out. She was present and accounted for, working both coasts on either side of the weekend, and making her red carpet debut with fiancée Dylan Meyer at the CCAs. Chastain, meanwhile, is in North Carolina filming George & Tammy, so she thanked the critics via her phone:

And that’s fine! No shade. She’s busy, and George & Tammy, in which she plays Tammy Wynette and Michael Shannon plays George Jones, sounds great. But of all the Oscar races that clarified this weekend, a few remain utterly chaotic, starting with Best Actress, which might be the most chaotic category, though Best Animated Feature is also doing its best to ruin everyone’s Oscar pools in a couple weeks. (Seriously, if you’re wagering, watch out for Animated Feature and Adapted Screenplay.) 


I don’t want to call ANY race in these Oscars locked, especially not before the producers weigh in next weekend, but I especially don’t want to pin down this category. Chastain has the momentum, but are you ready to bet against Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz? Or to rule out the effect of all of KStew’s glad-handing? Best Actress is going to be a nail-biter down to the wire. I just keep coming back to Penelope Cruz. She hasn’t won any major pre-cursors, but if ever there was a year for a surprise, left-field win, it’s this one. The three biopic ladies split the voters along personal preference/taste lines. Olivia Colman is popular and much admired, but she won recently, and the Academy doesn’t often repeat acting awards so quickly (it does happen, just not a lot). And there is Penelope Cruz. Also popular, also admired. She hasn’t won in over a decade. And it would be totally chaotic, a perfect capper for this chaotic category.