As was the case with the actors, the actresses have one race that is very easy to predict, and one race that is not so easy to predict. With the ladies, though, the shoo-in is on the other foot, in the the supporting category that's a shoo-in.
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Watts aside, you can cook up a scenario in which any of these nominees could win. I hate to say that about Watts, because I loved her film, and she's long overdue for an Oscar. But she's the only one I don't see having any chance.
Chastain is still riding a wave of praise after her tremendous coming out party last year, and for a long time, her steely but deeply felt work made her a favorite to win. Unfortunately, the torture controversy of ZD30 has tainted her chances. She's already a repeat nominee, though - she will return here.
Riva is a well-respected actress. She's in her 80s, so the Academy will not have many more chances to award her. She's heartbreakingly good in her film. As it happens, Oscar Sunday is her 86th birthday. What a present - and what a story - that would be. On the other hand, a couple of stumbling blocks remain. Her film is very hard to endure, and it's also very small. Have enough people seen it to carry her to the winners circle?
Wallis was sensational in Beasts of the Southern Wild, and she filmed it when she was 6. Only time will tell if she's here to stay, but given that her movie is also up for Picture, Director and Screenplay, she has a lot of support. Still - will rewarding her seem like a novelty more than anything else.
That leaves Lawrence. Some say she's too young for her role, and I can understand that argument, but I think that's part of why her performance works so well - her wise (or wise-ass) beyond her years quality gives the performance gravity. She runs the gamut of emotions, and having accomplished so much at only 22 years old, there's no question she's here to stay. She won the SAG award too, and her movie is extremely well liked, since all her co-stars are nominated.
SHOULD WIN: Lawrence, although every one of the nominees is deserving. The actresses had a great year.
WILL WIN: Lawrence.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
SHOULD WIN: I have to go with my beloved Amy, but I won't complain about who
WILL WIN: Hathaway. She's had this locked up since before her movie came out.