Top Contenders

Natalie Portman in Jackie (Fox Searchlight)

Natalie Portman in Jackie (Fox Searchlight)

With Viola Davis going supporting, you'd assume this category would perhaps clear up. Instead it's more cluttered than ever. 

NYFF clarified that Annette Bening is very much in the thick of the race, solidifying herself just behind Portman and Stone. Elsewhere, Elle is performing remarkably well on the festival circuit, and much to my surprise, is much more palatable than its "rape-comedy" byline suggests. Huppert's going to remain in the conversation, especially since I would assume critics circles will favor her come December. 

For the final spot: it's really anyone. Kate Beckinsale could surge, particularly if the film performs well come the critics' phase of things. I suspect pundits are underestimating Rebecca Hall as well; the performance is very strong. But for now I'm considering Amy Adams, if only for the perceived strength of Arrival - I imagine its below-the-line haul will eventually trickle down to some above-the-line nominations, with Adams being its primary beneficiary. It's not the most logical (I'm not considering the film for Best Picture or Best Director), but: well, it's a better option than Meryl Streep again. 

AMY ADAMS
“ARRIVAL”

ISABELLE HUPPERT
"ELLE"

Natalie Portman
"Jackie" 

Emma Stone
“La la Land”

MERYL STREEP
"FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS"

Second-Tier Contenders

Kate Beckinsale
"Love & Friendship"

ANNETTE BENING
“20TH CENTURY WOMEN”

Emily Blunt
"The Girl on the Train"

TARAJI P. HENSON
"HIDDEN FIGURES

RUTH NEGGA
“LOVING”