With the Academy Awards looming on Sunday, some races are foregone conclusions (we’re looking at you Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress), while others are a toss up. One especially tough, yet intriguing race is that for Best Actress.

Five extraordinary women are nominated – Emma Stone (“La La Land”), Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”), Natalie Portman (“Jackie”), Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”), and Ruth Negga (“Loving”). All are extremely deserving of the statue, but only one will win.

Best actress performance versus film’s popularity

Picking a “Best Actress” in films that aren’t the same is akin to the apple versus oranges argument in that so much surrounds a performance – a good script, director, editor, marketing campaign, etc.

So is it fair to pit an actress in an arthouse French sexual thriller (“Elle”) against an actress in a mainstream American musical (“La La Land”)?

Do critical reviews and box office play into the decision? You bet! If Academy Voters aren’t embracing the film, the Best Actress nod becomes a long shot. Case in point, Natalie Portman is a tour de force in “Jackie,” but the film was polarizing for critics and audiences; some loved it, others hated it. Thus, a fine performance is hindered.

Can a French actress in a French film win Oscar

It’s rare when a foreign actress is nominated for Best Actress in a non-English speaking role, rarer still, to actually pull off a win. Recent nominees have included Marion Cotillard (“Two Days, One Night” and a win with “La Vie en Rose”), Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”) and Penelope Cruz (Pedro Almodovar’s “Volver”).

This year’s nominee, Isabelle Huppert, stars in the taut pseudo-sexual thriller, “Elle.” It’s a gutsy, provocative and stunning performance, but will voters choose a French actress over American stalwarts, Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, or the popular Emma Stone?

Who should win Best Actress?

Emma Stone will most likely take home the Oscar for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.

The film is a darling among critics and audiences, and Stone is the next best thing to America’s sweetheart; everyone loves her. Plus, she’s a talented and relatable actress in the colorful, feel-good “La La Land, which in our politically-stressed environment, is a plus. But if voting for who should win in this worthwhile competitive field, my vote goes for Isabelle Huppert in “Elle.”