I’m obviously unable to come to any semi-final decisions about which actresses might end up as the leading 2017 Best Actress contenders, but I’d be more than a little surprised if the finalists don’t boil down to the following: (1) Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; (2) Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes, (3) Meryl Streep, The Papers; (4) Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water; (5) Kate Winslet, Wonder Wheel; and (6) Judi Dench, Victoria and Abdul.

I know next to nothing about Annette Bening‘s performance as Gloria Grahame in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. Talk to me after it screens in Toronto, but right now my gut says…okay, a definite maybe.

Women under pressure, embarked on life-changing journeys, seeking resolutions and satisfaction. McDormand’s character demanding answers and finding closure. Stone and Streep as famous, real-life women subjected to tests of character and mettle in the early ’70s. Hawkins doing it silently, all with her face and eyes. Winslet going through the pains of hell in early ’50s Brooklyn. Dench’s Queen Victoria bridging culture gaps.

Remember — it’s not just about stirring, eye-opening performances, but the quality of the films that these performances are woven into.

Right now I’m not feeling it as much for Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game (uncertain fate awaiting Aaron Sorkin’s film + same brittle tough-girl performance Chastain gave in Miss Sloan?); Jane Fonda in Our Souls at Night (out-of-competition slot for Souls in Venice Film Festival creates question mark — undeniable nostalgia factor for fourth Fonda-Redford teaming), Diane Kruger, In the Fade (not happening), Jennifer Lawrence, mother! (Aronofsky doesn’t seem to be courting Oscar voters this year, at least not by the standards they live by); Carey Mulligan, Mudbound (Mulligan is always good but acting-wise the film belongs to Jason Mitchell and Mary J. Blige); Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird (haven’t seen it….zip); Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World (no idea, not a hint).