David Onda’s Countdown to the 2017 Oscars: Who Will Win Best Actress?

Best Actress nominees

Best Actress nominees Emma Stone, Natalie Portman, Ruth Negga, Meryl Streep and Isabelle Huppert

The Oscar Sunday forecast: Rain.

As the Academy officially rolled out the red carpet yesterday afternoon, it became clear that crews are preparing for another day of sun a crappy afternoon of precipitation. As our friends over at XFINITY Sports so accurately pointed out on Twitter:

As a member of the press covering the Oscars, I’ve been afforded quite a few memorable encounters with famous media personalities. Al Roker once complimented my rented Men’s Wearhouse shoes while waiting to use the port-o-potty on the red carpet. I crossed paths with Ryan Seacrest and his massive entourage on a Hollywood backstreet en route to the Oscars pre-show. And I met David Arquette in the press room before he nearly derailed the entire night by shouting questions at winners when press coordinators refused to call on him.

And just yesterday, while snapping photos of the red carpet, I bumped into 89th Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel (see the photo) as he crossed Hollywood Blvd. to the El Capitan Theatre. I also had the opportunity to chat with legendary film critic and historian Leonard Maltin and his daughter Jessie Maltin. Leonard has done just about everything in the business of film journalism–including the Oscars–but he’s never covered the event from the press interview room. Considering all he’s accomplished, the man has no ego, and even offered to provide a “Maltin-ism” or two for me on Sunday night. All the more reason to join my live Oscars backstage chat starting at 7 p.m. ET, no?

Last night, I also had the opportunity to attend the “Oscars Week: Documentaries” event in Beverly Hills, which honored the films and filmmakers nominated in the short and full-length documentary categories. The take away is this–if you’re not watching documentaries, this is an incredible year to start. And you should start with watching these nominated films.

“Life, Animated,” “O.J.: Made in America,” “Extremis” (via Netflix), “The White Helmets” (Netflix) and “13th” (Netflix) are currently available to watch with XFINITY On Demand and X1. These are among the most powerful documentaries I’ve ever seen, and the stories they tell become more important every day.

Click here for the full list of 2017 Oscar-nominated movies on demand.

Now it’s time to look at this year’s nominees in the Best Actress category. I think this is one of the most competitive years for the category in recent memory, with five incredible actresses and five Oscar-worthy performances. The nominees are:

  • Emma Stone (“La La Land”)
  • Natalie Portman (“Jackie”)
  • Ruth Negga (“Loving”)
  • Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”)
  • Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”)

When I interviewed “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle late last year, I referred to Emma Stone’s showstopping solo performance of “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” as her “I Dreamed a Dream” moment. The latter song, from “Les Miserables,” helped Anne Hathaway clinch an Oscar in 2013. The former song, which Stone sang live in one extended take, capturing every emotional nuance, could very well do the same. I can’t pretend that I don’t have a favorite this year. Emma is absolutely magnetic in “La La Land.”

Who Will Win: Emma Stone

Who Should Win: Emma Stone

Who Could Win: Isabelle Huppert? The 63-year-old French actress pulled an upset at the Golden Globes. And stranger things have happened at the Oscars.

Sorry, Meryl.

Watch Oscar-nominated movies On DemandDownload your very own Oscars ballotGet more Oscars news, photos and video

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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