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20 Days til Oscar. Beyond Meryl...

Everyone knows that Meryl Streep is Oscar's all time acting nomination queen. This year the queen received her 20th nomination, this time for playing the worst opera singer Florence Foster Jenkins. But Streep's astonishing numbers get a little less intimidating if you break them up into supporting and lead categories. So let's do that to place Streep in a slightly different context in the history of Oscar'ed actresses.



We'll ignore wins in this particular exercize. Streep isn't #1 in the supporting sweepstakes, but she remains #1 by a very comfortable margin for leading actresses. More details after the jump...

Most Supporting Actress nominations

Thelma Ritter received her first nomination around her 49th birthday for ALL ABOUT EVE (1950). Five more nominations would follow

01 Thelma Ritter (6 nominations)

Maggie Smith received her last supporting Oscar nomination for GOSFORD PARK (2001). Will she nab another in her 80s?

02 [tie]
Amy Adams (4 nominations)
Ethel Barrymore (4 nominations)
Lee Grant (4 nominations)
Agnes Moorehead (4 nominations)
Geraldine Page (4 nominations)
Maggie Smith (4 nominations)
Maureen Stapleton (4 nominations) 
Meryl Streep (4 nominations) 

On a scale of 1-10 how hard are you rooting for another great role for Marisa Tomei. I'm at about a "15"

10 [Tie] Thirteen women have 3 supporting nominations including the following that are still working semi-regularly in theatrical features so they could return to Oscar if the stars align just so: Kate Winslet, Glenn Close, Frances McDormand, Marisa Tomei, and Dianne Wiest. Which do you think is most likely to make one more trip to the supporting shortlist? 

22 [Tie] Nearly forty women have two in this category including the following that are still working regularly in theatrical features: Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Vanessa Redgrave... though the bulk of still living actresses with two nominations in this category are now primarily found on television and thus unlikely to be in an Oscar shortlist again (examples include: Kathy Bates, Marcia Gay Harden, and Anjelica Huston) 

Most Lead Actress nominations

Bette Davis in DARK VICTORY (1939). She's one of those Oscar players who won for the wrong performances with plenty of "right" options for AMPAS.

01 Meryl Streep (16 nominations)

02 Katharine Hepburn (12 nominations)

03 Bette Davis (10 or 11 nominations depending on what you think of her write-in nomination for 1934)

04 Greer Garson (7 nominations)

Jane Fonda received her last nomination for THE MORNING AFTER (1986). That's a long time ago but she's still one of the greats

05 [tie]
Ingrid Bergman (6 nominations)
Jane Fonda (6 nominations)
Deborah Kerr (6 nominations)
Sissy Spacek (6 nominations) 

09 Norma Shearer (6 nominations unless you count her double in 1929/1930 as 1 in which case 5)

10 [tie] of the nine women that have 5 lead actress nominations only the following are still alive: Ellen Burstyn and Jessica Lange (who both mostly work on TV now), Susan Sarandon, and Judi Dench. 

What of the future?
While no one will rival Streep in our lifetimes -- she's way too far ahead of all rivals -- there are performers still working regularly who could rival the Greer Garsons and Ingrid Bergmans and such (statistically speaking). The three most likely are probably Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence. At least at this writing.

A word of caution though: Oscar history tells us that unless you are Hepburn or Streep there are finite windows in which you can be nominated for somewhat average work. When they fall, they fall hard (see Jacki Weaver's weird nomination for Silver Linings Playbook after her statue worthy work in Animal Kingdom) but they can go ice cold without any warning. No matter how talented actors are, they sometimes find it difficult to become a flavor of the year again unless they're far gone enough in their career to have something like a "comeback" vehicle or a "career tribute" vehicle -- like what happened with Julianne Moore for Still Alice (2014); after a flurry of nominations in the late 90s and early Aughts, Oscar lost interest for over a decade despite a constant stream of fine performances. Another example: Tilda Swinton has regularly been doing transcendent work since her surprise Oscar win but not a peep from the Academy.

Was Amy's failure to secure a nomination this year a sign of things to come?

Actresses that are either in a honeymoon phase with Oscar or possibly just ending it... but we won't know the latter unless voters start ignoring them regularly:
Amy Adams (5 nominations within the past 12 years -- do the recent misses for Big Eyes and Arrival despite precursor love indicate that it's over or were they just tough breaks?)
Michelle Williams (4 nominations within the past 12 years) 
Jennifer Lawrence (4 nominations within the past 6 years)
Viola Davis (3 nominations within the past 8 years)
Rooney Mara (2 nominations within past 5 years)
Emma Stone (2 nominations within past 3 years)

Brie Larson in THE GLASS CASTLE (2017). Will she become an Oscar favorite?

Actresses that could be entering a honeymoon phase but we'll only know that if they start wracking up the nominations. (They could just as easily be a Carey Mulligan or Jessica Chastain. As talented as those two are, Oscar voters seemed to move on quickly, no?)
Brie Larson, Ruth Negga, Alicia Vikander, Emma Stone, Saoirse Ronan, Naomie Harris, and... Octavia Spencer??? (it's fun to imagine grounded comforting funny presence Spencer becoming something like a new Thelma Ritter, isn't it? Not that Thelma can ever quite be replicated)


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Reader Comments (72)

Before Julianne Moore finally won, I think she was at a point where it was like "Give it to me or stop nominating me" after 4 nominations. Amy Adams and Annette Bening are in the same realm.

I'm curious about Alicia Vikander. She was the actress of the moment in 2015 but we'll see if that's where she peaked. If Emma Stone wins, though, she definitely won't be done with Oscar yet. She'll probably be back with Battle Of The Sexes later this year.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St.Clair

Love love love Emma Stone but was anyone expecting her to have more nominations than Scarlett Johansson, Emily Blunt, Evan Rachel Wood and Carey Mulligan at this point in time, Funny how things work out. I always thought her acting style was too 'quirky' for the Academy, but I'm glad to be proved wrong.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBlake

I think Cate Blanchett is the next 3-time winner. If she keeps topping herself, she could reach a Daniel Day-Lewis status.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I think Amy's failure to get a nod with Arrival this time is because acting nods for sci-fi films are very rare and other factors also weighted in. #Oscarssowhite #Merylsopolitical

Also for Meryl's 20th nom: #Suckit
How many will she get? I doubt 30, but maybe 25->3 in lead, two in Supporting+a win

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

I'm so happy Streep received a Lead Acting nomination this time around. I know the competition was fierce. At least she acted, inhabited a role that had some degree of difficulty, unlike some of the other contenders.

My guess is Streep will get around 4 more nominations, if she continues to work regularly in film.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

This is where the term an embarrassment of riches comes from.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

They went cold on Pfeiffer in the early 90's,Weaver and Close in the late 80's,Thompson in the late 90's & Joan Allen in the early 00's,those all should have Oscars.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMARKGORDONUK

Until The Reader, Winslet seemed like she might break more records but she seriously slowed down. We'll see..

I think Blanchett is going to join Page is number of nominations soon, and might end up reaching Davis's sum of 10.

Re:Lawrence, it's too early to tell. I don't know if she'll stay only commeercially successful or only an Oscar darling or both.

I'd love for Redgrave to get at least one more nod!

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I know we are talking about the ladies but isn't it weird that Ryan Gosling is only the second actor of his generation (under 38) to get more than one nomination. I am wondering who will be next.

Something is telling me that Winslet, Adams and Blanchett will continue to rack up nominations with Jlaw and Brie representing the new generation.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Nathaniel, are you dissing Jezebel?!?!?

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The best thing that happened to Adams was that she was snubbed for Arrival. If her next performance is anything like Arrival, she'll sweep - only because she is now not only overdue, but also seen as someone who deserves more nominations than she has. It should also be noted that for her to get so much buzz/praise/precursor for a sci-fi film says a lot about how much she is loved and respected.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike B.

In my mind, continuously nominating Streep for average work--like FFJ--devalues her truly inspired turns. Wish Adams and Bening had made it in this year, and hopefully they'll both have another shot.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBD


February 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I was watching ALL ABOUT EVE again the other night on TCM's 31 Days of Oscar, and thinking Damn why didn't Bette Davis win for this??!! Then I looked at the competition that year and holy shit that's a great field!!

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Mike B also Whilst snubbing others for inspired and best performances!

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordon

Paul -- i should have been more specific. She's amazing in Jezebel but DANGEROUS is one of her weakest leading roles. I think her two best performances though are ALL ABOUT EVE and BABY JANE with maybe DARK VICTORY as spoiler

February 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

OK, Nathaniel, I can't resist a list:

Top 5 Bette, all Oscar-nominated:
1. The Letter
2. Now, Voyager
3. All About Eve
4. Dark Victory
5. Jezebel

But I would probably shuffle the order any given day.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The next 3 time Oscar winner is gonna be Cate Blanchett for sure! Is just a matter of time, people. She is fricking talented. I hope that she pulls a suprise nominated next year for her out of this world artistic performances in Manifesto

I wonder when JLaw is gonna end her honeymoon with the Academy. Like yesterday please

Jodie Foster is another contender for a 3rd win if she wants to work and gets a spicy role. The Nurse role sounds great though

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

The thing about anyone winning for the "wrong" performance/film is that the Oscar isn't for "Best [insert name] performance" out of their entire filmography, it's Best Actress of the year. So maybe someone's career best performance ended up being 2nd best of that particular year (in a competitive year), while their weaker performance ended up being the best of that year (in a weaker year).

And sometimes the Academy just gets it wrong.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

@ DJDeeJay

IMNSHO, in terms of the lead actress performance:

Now, Voyager > Mrs Miniver
The Letter > Kitty Foyle
All About Eve > Born Yesterday

I'm going to leave Vivien Leigh alone...

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I would predict that Saoirse, Brie, and Jessica are in the middle of a Honeymoon period and will be in conversation this time next year.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrendan

Each of the best actress nominees this year had a compelling narrative. The others (Amy and Annette did not). I hope Amy is not the Glenn Close of her time, but she kind of has that vibe.

I think a sea change is underway. The old guard is aging out and the mid guard (Blanchett, Moore, Roberts and Bullock) will become nominated less and less.

The new guard are all in for dominance and bless them.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJono

@Jono - but Annette was getting some career tributes and festivals and whatnot, A24 just did not capitalize on it and build the momentum with their terrible release date and lack of marketing.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

True, but maybe too little too late?

I also think it's great Streep has been nominated 20 times. All of these characters became iconic, and we don't want people to forget women of all ages are interesting and valuable.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJono

All of these characters became iconic? Helen Archer? Kate Gulden? Roberta Guispari?! Even Violet Weston, which *is* an iconic character, became iconic...because of Deanna Dunagan/Tracy Letts—not Meryl Streep. Face it, her Oscar history is peppered with sub-par, forgettable work that make for not exactly the most sterling retrospective. (And this is coming from someone who really likes her!)

Anyway, I totally could see Jodie Foster winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, à la Ingrid Bergman in the '70s.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Um, the fact that you can recite them makes my case. Thank you.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJono

For me Bette Davis could have tied Hepburn's record for her 87 performance in The Whales Of August.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordon

@ Mareko

At least one of the three characters you named is indeed iconic. I think you'd have to look after 2007 for "sub-par, forgettable work" from Streep that was nominated for an Oscar. And not everyone would agree on which performances they were.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I was just saying in another thread recently that the Academy is either done with Amy or just waiting to actually give it to her on her next nom. No idea which one it is.

And I love that Octavia Spencer is the type of actress everyone thought was a "one and done" type deal, and not only has she gotten a follow-up nod (first actress to get nominated after winning), she even had another "in the running" performance (Fruitvale Station), and has become a legit movie star. Good for her.

I could see Naomie Harris winning. She's equal parts talented and drop dead gorgeous and has been working steadily in the industry for years now. If she gets the right role in the next few years I could see it happening.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Jamie - Gosling is actually the third after Jonah Hill (2 supporting noms) and Eddie Redmayne (2 lead noms). If you refer only leads, yep only after Redmayne.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterleon

"Guests dined on Chilean sea bass with couscous, which was followed by fresh banana cream and cinnamon graham tart for dessert." (Meryl planned to attend her 20th nominees luncheon this afternoon—has she been to all 20?)

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The consecutive nominations of Rampling and Huppert give me hope. Almost like anyone can happen with the right movie and some critics love.

I don't think the honeymoon is over with Amy Adams. Her snub got all the press this year and the Internet adores her. Same case as DiCaprio. She only needs the right role, but which one?!

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

@Jono - I had to look them up; it's called IMDb. LOL

@Paul - Which one is "iconic," you think? Ironweed?

Y'all, I like Meryl Streep quite a bit, and thought she (since 2007) was excellent in Julie & Julia and Florence Foster Jenkins. But that period from 1996 (post-The Bridges of Madison County) to 2002 (Adaptation and The Hours) was her nadir. The Devil Wears Prada, Ricki and the Flash, etc. show she has more inspired performances in store, although 20 noms is awfully generous.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

With Streep, Hepburn, Nicholson, Davis, etc. the Academy clearly loves/loved them, and they probably also fell in love with the idea of nominating them a lot because they loved watching them on film. It's like, how do you not recognize someone in your own family at the dinner table during toasts if they did a good job? Not logical, but very much has to do with their own self-love as much as they love the individual performers.

Streep is moving to television. I hope she can help evolve the long form of adaptations, like Olive Kitteridge, with The Nix. Maybe she will have some film renaissance in her 70's but honestly I think she is winding down. Maybe 2-3 more nominations tops, maybe not for several years since she has been so decorated.

I honestly don't know if there is a heir apparent to her. Attention spans are shorter and actresses are still not really cultivated to be big stars as they get older. I would love Cate Blanchett to be wildly successful in her 50's, but I am not seeing it at the moment. She would need a series of roles that really connect with the zeitgeist.

Amy would win if there was no other narrative for her year. The odds are rarely in your favor.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Ford

Meryl is at the twilight of her career...she's nearing her 70s and I don't see her getting roles as meaty as FFJ as often as she would like. Cut her some slack and enjoy the goods while she's around.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJans

By the way, I also see Cate Blanchett as heir apparent to Meryl as far as Oscar noms are concerned.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJans

I do think Blanchett in Manifesto can be a spoiler in the Best Actress race this year.
Manifesto (the movie) is in fact a 2017 product and it seems like it will be touring the festival circuit until the very end of the year.

The early reviews are very promising.
Also, it's a piece that aggressively shows off Cate Blanchett's talents. I mean, 13 characters!

If it starts racking up critics awards, watch out! (think Huppert this year)

The advantage Blanchett has over Streep is that she's not overdoing the leads. That makes it easier to be nominated less frequently and win the 3rd Oscar faster.

Also, is it just me or does Hela in a well-directed full of laughs Thor Ragnarok sound like a cinch for Supporting Actress?

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterYavor


a) Meryl made 11 movies in the 1980s. She made 12 from 2008 to 2016, and I'm excluding The Homesman and Sufragette as mere cameos. I don't know where this idea that she's going to slow down is coming from. Heck, her moving towards television suggests she's going to work more, not less. She'll slow down eventually but

b) I think AMPAS likes the idea of her being unimpeachable, in terms of record. I actually think she's more likely to end her career with five oscars (to break that record) and something like 25 nominations.

c) There will be no Streep again. Blanchett will probably be the next performer to hit double digits, but current Hollywood terrain won't help.

d) She's amazing in FFJ.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Here we go again. Celebrities using their time on air to millions of people for their own opinions without any other people defending the other side . I,m surprised and disappointed Mere should have known better. Went down in my appreciation of her . Very poor taste.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFrank balesteri

I get tired of threads like this being taken over with talk of Meryl, Cate, and Kate, so I will go out on a limb and say that Marisa Tomei will receive another nomination or two as supporting actress and end up a double winner in the category by the time her career is over. I'm of the firm opinion that with each nod since My Cousin Vinny, the Academy has been trying to vindicate itself for her much-derided win, and what better way can it do that than with another trophy?

Also, I think that if a win for Amy Adams doesn't happen with the next nomination she receives, then it never will happen for her.

If the tide keeps turning in the favor of black actresses, then I easily could see quite a few of them being invited back to the party and asked to stay a while. My gut tells me that someone like Alfre Woodard could get a career honor in the supporting category for a standout role in a critical favorite. Considering that she probably was somewhere between six and ten in the best actress race this year, Taraji P. Henson could be back within a few years as well.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Yavor -- i would be very surprised if they ruled Manifesto as being eligible since it aired before any upcoming theatrical engagement in a different form as an art installation but we shall see.

Troy -- my sincere hope is that Viola actually gets some of these movies made that we keep hearing she'll lead and ends up the first black actress on the 5 and up list. I'm still so disappointed that she didnt campaign as lead because A) She is a lead and B) She still would have won.

February 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Jamie & Leon -- i think it's rather arbitrary to cut it off at 38. If you say Under 40, which makes more sense, you have 4 of them (add in Michael Fassbender). Of course he's turning 40 in two months so maybe... forget what i just typed ;)

February 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

though the bulk of still living actresses with two nominations in this category are now primarily found on television and thus unlikely to be in an Oscar shortlist again (examples include: Kathy Bates, Marcia Gay Harden, and Anjelica Huston)

Bates cares about further Oscar recognition. Harden likely wants to triple crown so she can give up on caring about awards altogether. And Huston doesn't understand what she has to do to earn a freaking Emmy!

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

/3rtful -- if Bates cared she'd focus on movies. She's been mostly television since 2009 with occasional obscure movies or bit roles in mainstream comedies.

February 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

5 more nods and two more wins for Meryl

Marisa Tomei for Master Class

Jennifer Lawrence murky at best

Aja wins

Cate murky

Amy no

Kristen Stewart yes

Emma yes

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMinerva

if Bates cared she'd focus on movies. She's been mostly television since 2009 with occasional obscure movies or bit roles in mainstream comedies.

Cheri, Revolutionary Road, The Blind Side, Midnight in Paris are not examples of someone who doesn't want to work more in the movies. When opportunities present themselves in TV you're paying the bills and getting award exposure. She has more visibility now than she has since her 90's prime. She's in the new Xavier Dolan movie and one directed by William H Macy.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Amy is definitely getting her Julianne or Leonardo moment soon. The internet, critics, and people in general loves her and that's hard to get these days.
Cate is the heir apparent to Meryl. But guys Manifesto is outrightly an "art" movie and there's no way she's getting nominated for that.

February 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

@ Mareko

Yes, Ironweed. For that song alone, which was sung back to her at her Kennedy Center Honors by Anne Hathaway.

She was only nominated twice in the period you call her nadir, and (as an actor) I'm a fan of both performances for totally different reasons.

The only nominations I'd personally revoke are 1981 and the last three—not because I think the performances are unworthy, but because of the snubbed competition. (But in each of those years you could just as easily snatch someone else's nomination in her category and give it to someone more deserving.)

February 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I understand that Nicole Kidman(my utmost fave modern actress) doesn't garner the same critical acclaim that her fellow Aussie does (Cate Blanchett), but I'm heartened by her 4th nomination for Lion and I hope She gets more recognition for her risky (and quite often effective) undertaking in projects. Hopefully she is able to get at least 3 more nominations by 50.

Agree with Nathaniel, Viola should have campaigned for lead and would be the frontrunner to win (yes take that Stone!).

That said, I believe Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Amy Adams and JLaw r the ones to look out in terms of coming close to Hepburn, Streep territory. And Amy needs to win on her 6th nomination. I agree the Arrival snub will fuel these feelings for her.

February 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBlueMoon02

I meant by 60*. Clearly it's another day of sun :p

February 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBlueMoon02

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