Golden Globes Predictions: Best Actress (Drama) – Can Zendaya’s ‘Marie’ Crash the HFPA Party?

Clayton Davis
·8 min read

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars from Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Following Academy Awards history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar predictions are updated regularly with the current year's contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. Eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and will be displayed next to revision date.

To see all the latest predictions, of all the categories, in one place, visit THE COLLECTIVE

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UPDATED: Jan. 2, 2021

The best actress race’s competitive landscape could be revealed similar to the 2002 Oscar race for best actor. Jack Nicholson (“About Schmidt”) and Richard Gere (“Chicago”) won Golden Globes in the drama and comedy categories, while Daniel Day-Lewis (“Gangs of New York”) won the BAFTA and SAG prizes. Day-Lewis and Nicholson also tied at the Critics Choice awards. However, at the Oscars, Adrien Brody emerged victorious for his work in “The Pianist,” which had a lineup that had snubbed Gere. By the looks of the awards buzz, and how it could shift numerous times over the next few weeks, we could be in store for an unknown outcome on Oscar night, where a presumed frontrunner (Davis or Kirby?) may have been omitted. Maybe a surprise winner emerges (Day, Mulligan or Zendaya)? This could also happen without an important telling nomination at any of the upcoming televised award shows (like Regina King and Christoph Waltz achieved prior to their wins for “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Django Unchained” respectively). This could be all mere speculation, and Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”), the current precursor leader, could be on the beginning trails of a steamroll trajectory, bringing her third Oscar win like Daniel Day-Lewis for 2012’s “Lincoln.” And then we still have royalty such as Sophia Loren (“The Life Ahead”) and Michelle Pfeiffer (“French Exit”) to shake it all up. Exciting weeks are ahead as the Globes could set the tone.


  1. Carey Mulligan
    "Promising Young Woman" (Focus Features)

    GLOBES HISTORY: 1 nomination (2009's "An Education")
    ROLE: Cassandra "Cassie" Thomas

    DIRECTOR: Emerald Fennell
    SYNOPSIS: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.
    STARRING:Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Molly Shannon, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Max Greenfield, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Connie Britton, Chris Lowell, Adam Brody, Sam Richardson

  2. Frances McDormand
    "Nomadland" (Searchlight Pictures)

    GLOBES HISTORY: 6 nominations, 1 win (2018's "Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri")
    ROLE: Fern

    DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao
    SYNOPSIS: After losing everything in the Great Recession, an old woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
    STARRING: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells

  3. Vanessa Kirby
    "Pieces of a Woman" (Netflix)

    GLOBES HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Martha

    DIRECTOR: Kornél Mundruczó
    SYNOPSIS: When a young mother's home birth ends in unfathomable tragedy, she begins a year-long odyssey of mourning that fractures relationships with loved ones in this deeply personal story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.
    STARRING: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie, Sarah Snook, Molly Parker

  4. Viola Davis
    "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix)

    GLOBES HISTORY: 5 nominations, 1 win (2016's "Fences")
    ROLE: Ma Rainey

    DIRECTOR: George C. Wolfe
    SYNOPSIS: Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable "Mother of the Blues". Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play..
    STARRING: Chadwick Boseman, Dusan Brown, Jonny Coyne, Viola Davis, Colman Domingo, Taylour Paige, Michael Potts, Jeremy Shamos, Glynn Turman

  5. Zendaya
    "Malcolm & Marie" (Netflix)

    GLOBES HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Marie

    DIRECTOR: Sam Levinson
    SYNOPSIS: A director and his girlfriend's relationship is tested after they return home from his movie premiere and await critics' responses.
    STARRING: John David Washington, Zendaya


  1. Sophia Loren
    "The Life Ahead" (Netflix)

    GLOBES HISTORY: 3 nominations (recepient of Cecil B. DeMille award in 1995 also four-time winner of now retired "Henrietta Award")
    ROLE: Madame Rosa

    DIRECTOR: Edoardo Ponti
    SYNOPSIS: In seaside Italy, a Holocaust survivor with a daycare business takes in a 12-year-old street kid who recently robbed her..
    STARRING: Sophia Loren, Ibrahima Gueye

  2. Andra Day
    "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" (Hulu)

    GLOBES HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Billie Holiday

    DIRECTOR: Lee Daniels
    SYNOPSIS: Follows Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair.
    STARRING: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne, Garrett Hedlund, Rob Morgan, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Tyler James Williams

  3. Kate Winslet
    "Ammonite" (Neon)

    GLOBES HISTORY: 11 nominations, 4 wins (Double winner for 2008's "Revolutionary Road" and "The Reader" and 2015's "Steve Jobs" - HBO's "Mildred Pierce" in 2012 for TV)
    ROLE: Mary Anning

    DIRECTOR: Francis Lee
    SYNOPSIS: 1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.
    STARRING: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Fiona Shaw, Gemma Jones, James McArdle

  4. Sidney Flanigan
    "Never Rarely Sometimes Always" (Focus Features)

    GLOBES HISTORY: Never nominated
    ROLE: Autumn

    DIRECTOR: Eliza Hittman
    SYNOPSIS: Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin Skylar embark across state lines from rural Pennsylvania to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery and compassion.
    STARRING: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin

  5. Robin Wright
    "Land" (Focus Features)

    GLOBES HISTORY: 4 nominations, 1 win (Netflix's "House of Cards" in 2014)
    ROLE: Edie Mathis

    DIRECTOR: Robin Wright
    SYNOPSIS: A bereaved woman seeks out a new life, off the grid in Wyoming.
    STARRING: Robin Wright, Demián Bichir, Kim Dickens, Warren Christie


2021 Golden Globes Predictions (Film)

2020-2021 Golden Globes Awards Timeline

  • Deadline for submission of Golden Globe Motion Picture and Television entry forms – Nov. 30, 2020

  • Deadline for Television nomination ballots to be mailed to all HFPA members by Ernst & Young – Dec. 30, 2020

  • Deadline for receipt of Television nomination ballots by Ernst & Young at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT – Jan. 12, 2021

  • Deadline for Motion Picture nomination ballots to be mailed to all HFPA members by Ernst & Young at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT – Jan. 13, 2021

  • The final screening date for Motion Pictures – Jan. 26, 2021

  • The final date for Motion Picture press conferences – Jan. 27, 2021

  • Deadline for receipt of Motion Picture nomination ballots by Ernst & Young at 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. PT – Jan. 30, 2021

  • Nominations for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards announced at 8:00 a.m. ET / 5:00 a.m. PT – Feb. 3, 2021

  • Final ballots mailed to all HFPA members by Ernst & Young – Feb. 23, 2021

  • 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards will air live coast to coast at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on NBC from The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California – Feb. 28, 2021

2021 Academy Awards Predictions

About the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes Awards, hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is held annually with 93 members since 1944. The group recognizes excellence in film and television, across drama and comedy or musical categories. Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” holds the record for the most awards won by a single film with seven. Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Alan Parker’s “Midnight Express” is next in line with six each. Robert Altman’s “Nashville” has the record for most nominations received by a film with 11 while Colin Higgins’ “Foul Play,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part III” and Mike Nichols’ “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” share the record for receiving the most nominations and not winning a single award at seven.

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