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It’s going to be a royal showdown come awards time

Illustrated representations of Aretha Franklin, Lucille Ball, Lady Macbeth and Princess Diana
(Brie Henderson/For The Times)

Past cinema sovereigns crowned lead actress by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences include Audrey Hepburn (Princess Ann in 1953’s “Roman Holiday”), Katharine Hepburn (Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II, in 1968’s “The Lion in Winter”), Helen Mirren (Queen Elizabeth II in 2006’s “The Queen”) and Olivia Colman (Queen Anne in 2018’s “The Favourite”).

Here are four more regal contenders — with and without actual crowns.

Jennifer Hudson applies makeup as Aretha Franklin with Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington in a scene from "Respect"
Jennifer Hudson stars as Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington in “Respect.”
(Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)
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Jennifer Hudson
Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin
“Respect”

Reign: From 1961 to her death from pancreatic cancer at age 76 in 2018.

Strengths: That powerhouse voice, her musicality, her tenacity.

Fatal flaw: Too seldom using that voice to stand up to the antagonistic patriarchal forces in her life and career.

Allies: Father C.L. Franklin, mother Barbara, sisters Erma and Carolyn, music producer and Atlantic Records VP Jerry Wexler.

Adversaries: Father C.L. Franklin (yes, he was both help and hindrance), first husband/manager Ted White.

Behind-the-camera support: Costume designer Clint Ramos, hair department head Lawrence Davis, makeup department head Stevie Martin, voice and dialect coach Thom Jones.

Choice line: “I want hits. I just want hits.”

Legacy: More than 100 albums, plus countless singles, including “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Chain of Fools.” More than 75 million records sold. Eighteen Grammy wins in 44 nominations, six American Music Awards, the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors. First female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. First individual woman to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.

Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball in a scene from “Being the Ricardos.”
Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem star in “Being the Ricardos.”
(Glen Wilson / Amazon Content Services)

Nicole Kidman
Queen of Comedy Lucille Ball
‘Being the Ricardos’

Reign: From the debut of the now-classic sitcom “I Love Lucy” in 1951 to her death from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm at the age of 77 in 1989.

Strengths: Her gift for physical comedy, her love for her husband, her resilience, her business acumen.

Fatal flaw: Falling in love with a great man who had his own fatal flaw of serial infidelity.

Allies: Husband Desi Arnaz, costars Vivian Vance and William Frawley, Philip Morris Chairman Alfred E. Lyon.

Adversaries: CBS network executives, “I Love Lucy” showrunner and executive producer Jess Oppenheimer.

Behind-the-camera support: Costume designer Susan Lyall, hair department head Teresa Hill, personal hairstylist Kim Santantonio, wig maker Massimo Gattabrusi, makeup department head Ana Lozano, personal makeup artist Kyra Panchenko, prosthetic makeup artist Michael Ornelaz, voice and dialect coach Thom Jones.

Choice line: “Don’t make me feel like a bitch because I want to see my husband.”

Legacy: Five Emmy wins in 13 nominations, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the lifetime achievement award from the Kennedy Center Honors, the Governors Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, induction into the Television Hall of Fame, everlasting comedy goddess status thanks to worldwide reruns of the classic sitcom.

Frances McDormand in "The Tragedy of Macbeth."
(Apple TV+)

Frances McDormand
Lady Macbeth, Queen of Scotland
‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’

Reign: Circa 1606, when Shakespeare wrote the Scottish play, until today (if we go by her imperial place in the master’s canon).

Strengths: The power and influence she wields over her husband.

Fatal flaw: Unbridled ambition that leads to madness.

Allies: Husband Macbeth, her doctor, her nurse.

Adversaries: The witch, the voices in her head.

Behind-the-camera support: Costume designer Mary Zophres, makeup department head Jean Ann Black, hair department head Cydney Cornell, Shakespeare consultant Wayne T. Carr.

Choice line: “I have given suck, and know how tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me. I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this.”

Legacy: Eternal royal catnip to actresses from high school amateurs to film and stage luminaries such as Sarah Bernhardt, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Glenda Jackson, Alex Kingston, Vivien Leigh, Helen Mirren, Jeanette Nolan, Simone Signoret and Isuzu Yamada.

Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in "Spencer."
(Pablo Larrain/NEON / Topic Studios)

Kristen Stewart
Diana, Princess of Wales
‘Spencer’

Reign: From 1981 to her death in a Paris car crash at age 36 in 1997.

Strengths: Her charisma, her fierce love for her sons, her compassion for humanity.

Fatal flaw: Her refusal to be tamed.

Allies: Sons Prince William and Prince Harry, dresser Maggie, royal chef de cuisine Darren, the ghost of Anne Boleyn.

Adversaries: Husband Charles, Prince of Wales, mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth II, royal spy-handler Major Alistar Gregory.

Behind-the-camera support: Costume designer Jacqueline Durran, hair and makeup designer Wakana Yoshihara, wig maker Samuel James, personal makeup artist Stacey Panepinto, dialect coach William Conacher, royal protocol advisor Martin Dibben.

Choice line: “There’s no hope for me. Not with them.”

Legacy: Nearly universally adored, she will forever remain the People’s Princess.


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