As of right now, I still have Viola Davis predicted as the winner for Fences which recently wrapped shooting. Davis will be playing the role of the main character's wife that won her a Tony for Best Lead Actress In A Play back in 2010. So memorizing the material should be easy. Not only that, but she's having a pretty solid year with her recent Emmy nomination for How To Get Away With Murder and the upcoming blockbuster Suicide Squad while also carrying goodwill after her loss for The Help. So Davis definitely has a lot of things going for her even if we haven't seen a glimpse of the picture yet.
But Annette Bening, who currently has a 0-4 record, could easily give Davis a run for her money for 20th Century Women. Like Davis, she's been inches away from a win and a matchup between the two could make for an interesting season.
It has also just been announced that Miss Sloane starring previous 2-time nominee Jessica Chastain will be getting a December release. Chastain's pedigree along with the story's timeliness because it deals with gun control could make her a force to be reckoned with at the end of the year.
Ruth Negga received rave reviews out of Cannes for Loving and because Best Actress often has at least one breakthrough performer, this year, it could very well be Negga. Emma Stone looks to have a great role in La La Land that plays to her best skills: comedy, drama, and musical, making her a likely frontrunner for Best Actress-Musical/Comedy at the Golden Globes.
As for the rest of the batch, there's Emily Blunt whose star vehicle The Girl On The Train looks like a strong emotional showcase for her that could finally land her in Oscar's good graces. While she is collecting hardware for her instantly iconic role as Cookie Lyon on TV's Empire, Taraji P. Henson will be making the jump back to film in the biopic Hidden Figures which is about a group of black female mathematicians who helped launched an important mission for NASA back in 1962.
French actress Isabelle Huppert, who has gone decades without being Oscar nominated, could finally break through a la Charlotte Rampling with her turn in the controversial rape drama Elle from Sony Pictures Classics, the same studio that scored recent back-to-back Best Actress wins with Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine and Julianne Moore for Still Alice.
Of course, there's Meryl Streep to consider for Florence Foster Jenkins where she plays the world's worst opera singer. Jennifer Lawrence, who is starting to become a default choice, has Passengers coming out later this year which has potential to be this year's Martian given that it's populist sci-fi with likable movie stars stranded in space as Chris Pratt co-stars.
Marion Cotillard has potential to score her first nomination for an English language film with the WWII film Allied opposite Brad Pitt and directed by Robert Zemeckis. In Allied, she plays the wife of a French Canadian assassin who may or may not be a Nazi spy.
Previous 5-time Amy Adams has two chances to break into the category with the sci-fi film Arrival for director Denis Villeneuve and the pulp drama Nocturnal Animals opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Tom Ford.
Already, so much strong competition and I haven't even gotten into performances that haven't gotten distribution yet like previous nominee Rosamund Pike as one half of a real-life interracial couple in A United Kingdom opposite David Oyelowo, Rooney Mara in the stage-to-film adaptation Una opposite Ben Mendelsohn, and Michelle Pfeiffer in Beat-Up Little Seagull.
Lastly, there's Sonia Braga in her first leading role in quite some time in Brazil's selection for Best Foreign Language Film Aquarius and likely Globe contenders Sally Field and Kate Beckinsale for their sleeper indie hits Hello, My Name Is Doris and Love and Friendship, respectively.
More years like this, please!