Could Lady Gaga and Kristen Stewart Both Miss Oscar Nominations? Ask Madonna and Courtney Love 25 Years Ago

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After all the talk of a potential Lady Gaga-Kristen Stewart Oscar night showdown, could it be much ado about nothing?

Both actresses have a very vocal and passionate fanbase. Leading up to the Screen Actors Guild awards nominations, many predicted that the two would ultimately be the final two standing in the race for the Oscar statuette. However, that was until Stewart was snubbed for her turn as Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín’s historical fable. Many Gaga stans were elated by Stewart’s miss, seeing it as a clear opening for the performer to carry her “House of Gucci” momentum from a win at the New York Film Critics Circle and to a potential SAG Award, and then eventually the Academy Award.

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While both actresses received nominations at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards, including longlist mentions for the BAFTA Awards (round two voting ends today, by the way), whether pundits and fans want to believe it or not, the two megastars could be vulnerable for snubs.

It’s important to preface this with the fact that it has been challenging to gauge opinions this season with a mitigated in-person component, with many events having gone virtual due to the rise in omicron cases. However, based on conversations with awards voters over the past few days, there could be a disappointing nominees announcement ahead with the consumer-favorites missing out.

You don’t have to travel too far back to see such a wrench thrown into the mixture. Look no further than the best actress race of 1996, which was supposed to include Madonna from “Evita” and Courtney Love from “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” The Academy had other plans.

Two singer-turned-actresses were competing for the affections of the Academy. Madonna, who won the Golden Globe for “Evita,” over the eventual Oscar-winner Frances McDormand (“Fargo”), was part of the original song nomination for the number “You Must Me Love Me,” that went to Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice.

For Love, the once lead singer of the rock band Hole was making her film debut, receiving raves from critics and audiences. With a combination of category confusion (campaigned supporting, but nominated in lead at the Globes), she was surprisingly omitted at the Oscars, despite her film nabbing two major nods for director (Miloš Forman) and best actor (Woody Harrelson). Even Globes screenplay winners Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski were ignored on the morning.

In a year that ultimately ended with a near-sweep for Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient” walking away with nine statuettes, the makeup of what many presumed the lead actress category would look like was overhauled overnight. From the Globes’ lead actress drama nominees, only winner Brenda Blethyn (“Secrets & Lies”), Kristen Scott Thomas (“The English Patient”) and Emily Watson (“Breaking the Waves”) made the transfer. McDormand was the only candidate from the lead actress comedy side to receive attention.

In its third annual ceremony, the SAG Awards awarded McDormand, with Blethyn, Diane Keaton (“Marvin’s Room”), Thomas and surprise nominee Gena Rowlands (“Unhook the Stars”) in the lineup. Unfortunately, Madonna and Love were snubbed at the ceremony, yet many still believed the headlines would be too good to ignore.

That year presented a plethora of shocking inclusions and exclusions, like Billy Bob Thornton getting double-nominated for best actor and adapted screenplay for “Sling Blade,” ultimately winning the latter.

How does it relate to this year?

Well, Stewart isn’t a music star, but being one of the most prominent and most influential figures in Hollywood can be both a gift and a curse. She’s also made a mindful transition into a revered and critically beloved performer, shown by her dominance on the awards circuit this season with over 25 precursor wins. No other actress comes close to her, even Gaga.

Gaga, an Oscar-winner in original song for “Shallow” from “A Star is Born” (2018), has worked the circuit considerably. Both she and Stewart could be suffering from overexposure. One thing the Oscars don’t like is to be told what to do, and if they see a safer and familiar choice in the mix (i.e., Frances McDormand in “The Tragedy of Macbeth”), then they’ll do it, without hesitation.

The truth is, only two actresses feel “safe” for the moment: Olivia Colman for “The Lost Daughter” and Nicole Kidman for “Being the Ricardos.”

There’s also a considerable rise in awards buzz for Penélope Cruz’s turn in Pedro Almodóvar’s Spanish drama “Parallel Mothers” and Jennifer Hudson’s transformation into the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin in Liesl Tommy’s “Respect.”

With the expansion of the Academy membership over the past few years, a significant international presence has made their inclusion known, as shown by last year’s nominees like Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”) in directing and Florian Zeller’s “The Father” in multiple categories, including best picture. That pocket of support is often hard to read, but films like “Parallel Mothers” appeal to their sensibilities.

In addition, Hudson has worked the Q&As and tastemaker events leading up to SAG voting, which paid off in spades with one of the five coveted spots. Industry analysts and voters are also acutely aware that not many women of color are contending for lead actress nods, which has created a groundswell of support around the former Oscar-winning actress, who is also in the mix for best original song.

I cautioned many people last year regarding an Anthony Hopkins upset over Chadwick Boseman in best actor, as well as best picture and adapted screenplay miss for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” As in that situation, keep your eye on the circuit for new developments.

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