Now that the nominees are ‘set’ for the March 27th Oscars, let’s take a closer look at who is up for what, (and who should have been up for what):

In the Best Actress category, the nominees are Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”); Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”); Penelope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”); Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”);  and Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”).

I recently published an entire piece on this blog about Jessica Chastain having a banner year, and mentioned her appearance opposite Michael Shannon in “Take Shelter,” back in 2011. (Shannon told me it was his “favorite film” in Chicago at the premiere of “The Shape of Water.”) Jessica was also the guiding light behind the disappointing female action thriller “355,” one of 16 producing credits; she has not been previously nominated for her body of acting work. I  met Ms. Chastain at the Press Red Carpet for Liv Ullman’s directorial debut, directing Jessica and Colin Farrell in “Miss Julie” in 2014.

Considering that her body of work includes such films as “The Tree of Life” (2011), “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), “Molly’s Game” (2017) and this year’s “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” she is certainly an accomplished actress who has gone somewhat unrecognized for her previous appearances. “Take Shelter,” where she played the unhinged Michael Shannon’s long-suffering wife, was eleven years ago, so we are talking about a body of good work that has existed for over 10 years, without previous nominations. She has 57 acting credits, but has moved into producing, with 16 credits, including this year’s “355” foray into the area of female empowerment action films, (which quickly has become a genre of its own with films like Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde” and 2019’s “The Kitchen” with Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish). So, the relatively slight recognition given to Jessica Chastain over the years mitigates for her to win in this category, over the much-more heralded Nicole Kidman, who has been nominated 5 times in the past 20 years and won in 2003 for “The Hours.”

On the other hand, anticipating that the Academy will want to give it to the most-heralded film gives the nod to “Being the Ricardos,” which has more overall nominations, including Javier Bardem for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons. If the Academy really wanted to reward the least-recognized of the lot after years of good work, probably Penelope Cruz for “Parallel Mothers” would merit that distinction, but it will be the least-seen of the films. Those that have seen “The Lost Daughter” with Olivia Colman are pretty well split about the film, itself, while recognizing that Olivia, as always, was good in it. And let’s not forget that Ms. Colman came out of nowhere to win the Best Actress award in 2018 for “The Favourite.”

So, if I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on Jessica Chastain or Nicole Kidman to win the Best Actress award this year. The “Spencer” film may have had an acceptable performance from Kristen Stewart, but, overall, it was a dreadfully dull film, and one without many facts on which to base the drama (such as it is). Kristen Stewart is the female equivalent of Keanu Reeves. She looked great in the Diana wear, and she held up her end of the action in a film where the Most Exciting Thing that Happens is Diana retrieving her sons from a fox hunt that they were about to participate in and getting weighed in a chair. (No explanation for that latter bit; you’ll have to suffer through the film if you want to know more.) MANY shots of food being prepared in the mansion kitchen (Yawn). I  don’t think that Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz or Kristen Stewart have a real shot this year, but, if I’m wrong, I’d point to Penelope Cruz in a year when ethnicity matters.

If you want to know who should have been nominated, you can check out the gripers on, but the list could start with Ana Taylor-Joy in “Last Night in Soho,” move on to Lady Gaga in “House of Gucci,” and continue through “Cruella’s” Emmas (Stone and Thompson).