Speed Reads

cruzing to victory?

Penélope Cruz gains last minute momentum in Oscars' Best Actress race

Is Penélope Cruz about to pull off the biggest upset of the 2022 Oscars? 

Ahead of Sunday's Academy Awards, Cruz appears to be gaining momentum in the Best Actress race for her performance in Parallel Mothers. Best Actress is one of this year's most competitive categories, though the frontrunner is Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Chastain already won at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which shares voters with the Oscars, and the Critics Choice Awards.

But in the days before the Oscars, some experts have been theorizing a shock upset by Cruz is possible, especially because Parallel Mothers received the best reviews of any of the movies in the Best Actress category. Since Oscar voting closed, multiple outlets have published anonymous ballots from actual voters, and Cruz has been performing surprisingly well in them.

"I went from Nicole Kidman at the beginning of the year to Olivia Colman, but until I saw Penélope Cruz in Parallel Mothers that's when I made my decision," one anonymous voter told Entertainment Weekly. "She is getting it from me." 

After speaking with Oscar voters at Friday's Governors Awards, The New York Times' Kyle Buchanan also reported the buzz for Cruz "is very real." 

A Best Actress upset would be unusual because Oscar winners are usually at least nominated at the SAG Awards, and Cruz wasn't. Despite this, at least six experts on the awards season website Gold Derby are predicting Cruz will beat Chastain. 

A surprise win by Kristen Stewart also seems possible, and the other Best Actress nominees are Nicole Kidman and Olivia Colman. Chastain remains the safe bet, to be sure. But if one category could produce a jaw-dropper, this is it — and Cruz might be the one to do it.