The Oscar update conversation continues with the ladies, probably the most intriguing group to speak of at this point. And not necessarily for good reasons. With such a seemingly weak field, the agents of those first-half gals and the indie darlings need to get the word out - Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress haven't been this wide open in seven years.
Surefire Nominee: At this point, the only clear-cut one is Lawrence for Silver-Linings
Nearly There: I'm thinking Helen Mirren shouldn't have too much trouble showing up here unless the movie is panned, and Keira Knightley is looking more and more like a solid bet for Anna Karenina
On-Paper...: I'm thinking Marion Cotillard could truly slip in for Rust and Bone, despite it's not traditionally Oscar-accessible premise
Today's No. 5: I'm thinking Beasts of the Southern Wild will receive a glorious year-end push, in which case I'm giving the edge to Quvenzhane Wallis at this stage, though...
Nipping at Their Heels: Naomi Watts is looking more and more like a follow-up nod is finally coming for The Impossible, something I never would've seen coming even a month ago
It's a Strange Kind of Year, So: Don't be surprised to see Judi Dench (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) or Meryl Streep (Hope Springs) enter the conversation as potential spoilers
Rounding Out the 10: Laura Linney (Hyde Park on Hudson) and Maggie Smith (Quartet) will need some assistance with the tepid reception their respective films are receiving, but I'm guessing they're still among the top qualifiers
Surefire Nominees: Amy Adams, Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) and Helen Hunt seem like locks at this point, unless the latter two prove less than effective with audiences and critics
Rounding Out the Five: Though beyond the top three it's not super clear where we stand, my current guesses are Jacki Weaver, who could continue David O. Russell's recent success with acting nominees, for Silver Linings-Playbook and Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Close Calls: I'm thinking The Paperboy will play better stateside, particularly with the insurmountable buzz attached to its craziness, so Nicole Kidman is a distinct possibility. And Olivia Williams (Hyde Park on Hudson) and Sally Field (Lincoln) each have famous ladies to play - both are probable bio nods if the films manage to connect come December
And the Rest...: Helena Bonham Carter, I suspect, will have a more difficult time than many assume in gaining this nomination - plus, will Great Expectations be seen stateside in time? My 10th choice is tricky, but I'm going with Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas), who appears to have the most intriguing role in the epic whatever-it-is... and if you're an unknown to American audiences, this is the category to land in