Of the five Best Actress nominees, Carey Mulligan has the most compelling narrative — portrayed a definitive #MeToo character, has been delivering ace-level performances for over a decade, weathered the Dennis Harvey Sundance review altercation. Andra Day‘s Billie Holiday is quite commanding and lived-in, but there’s no narrative as Holiday was her first substantive role (had smallish roles in Cars 3 and Marshall before this). Frances McDormand Nomadland performance is obviously top-grade, but she won her Three Billboards Oscar three years ago. Viola Davis‘s blustery Ma Rainey performance never caught on, and Vanessa Kirby‘s Pieces of a Woman performance warrants serious praise, but again — no narrative except that she kills it.