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Oscar Contest: Category Highlight: Best Actress

March 5th, 2010

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which films should just feel honored to be nominated. Today we look at Best Actress in a Lead Role, which, unlike many others, I don't think is a slam dunk.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for acting and not other categories. However, they are for supporting and lead acting.)

Best Actress in Lead Role

Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
Tomatometer Score: 69% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globe and SAG
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: One SAGs and Three Golden Globes
Actress's Previous Major Wins: One SAG
Notes: Right now everyone seems to think Sandra Bullock is a lock for this award; however, I have some deep hesitation before I give her the award. First of all, The Blind Side wasn't that good of a movie. Yes, 69% positive is very strong for a wide release, but it hardly what one would consider an Oscar worthy film. The fact that she won the SAG and the Golden Globe does make her a favorite, but I think we could (and should) see an upset here.

Helen Mirren - The Last Station
Tomatometer Score: 69% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globe, and SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: Nine Golden Globes, Seven SAGs, and Three Oscars
Actress's Previous Major Wins: Three Golden Globes, Four SAGs, and One Oscar
Notes: This film earned reviews that were no better than The Blind Side's, plus it earned a lot less at the box office, and Helen Mirren previously won an Oscar, so there's little chance of voters giving her a so-called "Career Achievement Award." Out of the actresses nominated in this category, I would say Helen Mirren is the least likely to win this year. She will get another chance with a better film in the future.

Carey Mulligan - An Education
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and Two SAGs
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: None
Actress's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This movie earned the best reviews out of the five on this list. In fact, it earned some of the best reviews out of any film all year. Carey Mulligan arguably should be a leading contender for this award and there was a ton of pre-release Awards Season buzz for this movie, but by the time it opened in limited release, that mostly faded. Additionally, she's young and she already has three or four films lined up that could be critical successes as well. I think she'll be hurt by the unavoidable, "She's young, she has her whole career ahead of her" mentality.

Gabourey Sidibe for Precious
Tomatometer Score: 91% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globe, and Two SAGs
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: First Major Role
Actress's Previous Major Wins: First Major Role
Notes: It's not often that an actress earns an Oscar nomination for her first movie role, but that's exactly what Gabourey Sidibe did. Given the amount of buzz surrounding this film for much of its run, I assumed she would be the overwhelming favorite to win and the facts still suggest she should be. However, so far she has been shut out of the two major awards. (I do think she will win the Independent Spirit Award tonight, on the other hand.) Had other actresses split those wins, I would still think she would have a real chance of grabbing the Oscar, but with Sandra Bullock going two for two, Gabourey Sidibe will likely go home empty-handed.

Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia
Tomatometer Score: 75% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and SAG
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globe
Actress's Previous Major Nominations: 24 Golden Globes, 11 SAGs, and 15 Oscars
Actress's Previous Major Wins: Six Golden Globes, Two SAGs, and Two Oscars
Notes: This movie earned excellent reviews for a wide release, but not the kind of reviews one would expect for an Oscar winning movie. Then again, any time Meryl Streep makes a movie, it instantly becomes an Oscar contender. This is her 16th Oscar nomination to go with her nearly 40 other major nominations. (Some of these are for TV work.) She is easily the most honored actor in the history of Oscars with 16 nominations, although Katharine Hepburn leads with wins at four. It has been 27 years since her last win, so she's due, but I don't think she has a real chance this year. I am confident she will win again, however.

Conclusion: This should be a race between Gabourey Sidibe and Carey Mulligan, as An Education and Precious earned the best reviews and these two actresses had breakout performances in their respective movies. However, it appears that Sandra Bullock has a least a 50/50 chance at winning the Oscar.

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Filed under: Julie & Julia, The Last Station, An Education, The Blind Side, Precious (Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire)