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Entertainment Weekly

The Awardist

Let's break down the Oscars best actress race (so far)

Left to Right: Niko Tavernise/Fox; Neon; Niko Tavernise/Paramount; Merrick Morton/Fox Searchlight

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Three cheers for all the celluloid women of 2017 (this year, of all years) who have made picking just five nominees nearly impossible. And what wonder women they are — rebels, rule breakers, uncompromising and brave heroines.

Here’s who could follow Emma Stone’s Oscars 2017 win for La La Land:

Let’s start with the blistering performance by Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. As Mildred, the Oscar winner plays a mother whose grief over her daughter’s murder has taken the form of white-hot avenging anger. She’s a coiled instrument of rage, and voters should be thrilled at watching her tear through this movie, leaving everyone and everything in her wake. Writer-director Martin McDonagh wrote Mildred with McDormand in mind, and audiences will surely know why. Another case of the star and the material being in perfect harmony is Jessica Chastain in Aaron Sorkin’s Molly’s Game. It’s hard to imagine another actress who can speak fluent Sorkin while deftly handling the demands of playing Molly Bloom, 
a onetime Olympic-class skier who ends up running the hottest high-stakes poker game in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, “Margot Robbie as figure skater Tonya Harding” might have seemed at one time like a head-scratcher. But watching the I, Tonya star disappear into this complicated character (to say nothing of Harding’s frizzled hair and sparkly costumes) will make you want to throw up a perfect score. Ditto Emma Stone, who takes on the 
role of tennis trailblazer Billie Jean King with steely grace and dignity in Battle of the Sexes.

Speaking of grace, Sally Hawkins manages to bat hearts around a thousand different ways all without uttering a word, playing the mute and lonely Elisa in the fantastic The Shape of Water. A different kind of magic spell is cast by Saoirse Ronan’s restless teen aching for the unknown in the truly marvelous Lady Bird. (Audience and voter catnip, it is.) Quite honestly, it’s hard to talk about how incredible Annette Bening is in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool without remembering how mad we are about last year’s 20th Century Women snub. But no matter — her portrayal of actress Gloria Grahame is a sight to behold. And then there’s Victoria & Abdul’s Judi Dench, who comes on screen as Queen Victoria and reminds everyone — oh, yes, that’s why she’s Judi Dench.

But, of course, there’s those yet-unseen ones, too: Meryl Streep 
in The PostVicky Krieps in Phantom ThreadMichelle Williams in All the Money in the World. Lastly? Regardless of how you felt about mother!, don’t forget the depths Jennifer Lawrence went to for her role — a mother-you-know-what of a performance.