The tightest race at the 2017 Oscars is best actress — here’s who could win

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Natalie Portman in “Jackie.”
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Fox Searchlight/YouTube

As we get deeper into award season, the picture of how Oscar night will turn out is getting clearer.

“La La Land” and its director Damien Chazelle are frontrunners in the best picture and best director categories. Casey Affleck, meanwhile, is the odds-on favorite to win best actor for his performance in the moving “Manchester by the Sea.”

But best actress will likely keep people scrambling to guess until the big night.

The category has been famously tight in recent years. And this year performances by Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, and Amy Adams are all very strong, and anyone could win. Though they could be upset by the work of Taraji P. Henson or Isabelle Huppert. Or Meryl Streep could even swoop in and take down everyone, as she sometimes does.

Below are 10 actresses who all have a chance at being nominated and eventually winning best actress at the 2017 Academy Awards – and who we think has the best shot:


Amy Adams, “Arrival”

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Jan Thijs/Paramount Pictures

Adams has been nominated for an Oscar five times in her career (four times in the supporting actress category), and her portrayal as a linguist who is brought on by the military to communicate with aliens is the kind of performance Oscar voters love. She plays a character who is strong and assertive, but also tender and heartbreaking. It could lead to her first Oscar, and she certainly deserves one.


Annette Bening, “20th Century Women”

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a24

Bening gives one of the best performances of her career as a chain-smoking mother in the late 1970s who is trying to cope with her son turning into a rebellious teen. Playing it with a comedic touch, she will make you laugh and cry.


Jessica Chastain, “Miss Sloane”

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EuropaCorp USA

Chastain plays a no-nonsense lobbyist and shows why she’s one of the best actresses of her generation. Eschewing all the usual cliches of the woman-in-a-man’s-world movie, she plays a role that shines bright in our “nasty woman” era.


Rebecca Hall, “Christine”

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Jonny Cournoyer

Hall transforms herself to play Christine Chubbuck, a 1970s TV reporter in Florida who is considered the first person ever to commit suicide on live television. In retracing the weeks that led up to her faithful decision, Hall plays Chubbuck as a recluse who starves for acceptance in the male-driven world of television.


Taraji P. Henson, “Hidden Figures”

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Fox

Henson gives a knockout performance as mathematician/scientist Katherine Johnson, whose work at NASA helped the US win the space race in the 1960s. Like she always does, she brings an intensity to the role that you can’t stop thinking about.


Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”

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Sony Pictures Classics

People can’t stop talking about Huppert’s performance as a woman who is raped and then takes action into her own hands in the provocative thriller from Paul Verhoeven (“Basic Instinct”). It could be a way for the Oscars to anoint the 63-year-old legend.


Ruth Negga, “Loving”

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Focus

Negga has been wowing audiences as one half of the interracial couple who challenged their arrest for being married in Virginia and made history.


Natalie Portman, “Jackie”

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TIFF

Portman gives a powerful performance as Jacqueline Kennedy in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination. Getting the look and voice down to perfection, she also captures Jackie’s calculated persona.


Emma Stone, “La La Land”

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YouTube/Lionsgate

Showing off many aspects of her repertoire, from acting to dancing and singing, Stone brings much-needed joy in a season of many troubled characters.


Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

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Paramount Pictures

Streep is her usual great self as a New York heiress who dreams of becoming an opera singer. It could lead to her 20th(!) Oscar nomination.


And the winner will be…

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Fox Searchlight

At least right now, Natalie Portman in “Jackie” looks like the obvious winner. Portman was born to play Jacqueline Kennedy, and her performance is flawless. Though we wouldn’t have a problem with any of the ladies listed here taking home the prize.