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Why 'Anti-Pimp' Helena Bonham Carter Might Steal Melissa Leo's Oscar

Helena Bonham Carter
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Blogger Anne Thompson argues that the King's Speech star has already turned in two of the best performances on the campaign trail: at The Hollywood Reporter's actress roundtable and the Oscar nominees' luncheon.

Nineteen times as many pundits (including me) voted for Melissa Leo as for Helena Bonham Carter has the likely supporting actress winner in the new Gold Derby prediction poll; in fact, Thompson's is the sole vote for Bonham Carter. Six bigwigs (Roger Ebert, Dave Karger, Peter Knegt, Keith Simanton, Sasha Stone and Kris Tapley) went for Hailee Steinfeld. Kevin Polowy places the sole bet on Animal Kingdom's Jacki Weaver.

But Thompson makes a tempting case that Bonham Carter might win an upset victory. She just won at BAFTA, and some sort of King's Oscar sweep is likely. "The witty Brit ... came across as the most soft-spoken and sincere participant in THR's December Actress Roundtable," says Thompson, and she was the "crowd favorite at the Oscar Nominee Luncheon's interview room, where she said, 'Good morning, everyone, are you having a nice time?' [and] then took her shoes off: 'I could do a Black Swan."

Meanwhile, Melissa Leo was getting passive-aggressively defensive with reporters: “I don’t listen to much of what all y’all [reporters] get out there, but thank you," and inadvisably telling the New York Times she was "pimping" herself.

Bonham Carter is the anti-pimp.

Instead of posing in faux fur for glamour ads, she dresses like a wacky teenager, and totally pulls it off. At the Globes, she wore one pink shoe, one green shoe, and a cute but kooky Vivienne Westwood dress. She called her look a combination of "mad fairy, but black swan."

Later, she added, "Oh no, I'm promoting the wrong movie ... I just put too many things on and I try to have fun." Her charm is a disarming jujitsu strategy, if it even is a strategy -- the opposite of Leo's manic, sweaty tapdance of ambition. Leo points out that she looks young, undercutting her scruffy indie image. The closest Bonham Carter comes to boasting is, “I didn’t particularly look in the mirror and think, ‘God, I’m a dead ringer for the Queen Mother.’ ”

Asked what mad getup she'd wear to the Oscars, she said, “It’s probably going to be a catastrophe, but I’m going to go for it."

I'm still betting Leo's infinitely noisier performance will win over Bonham Carter's dry, self-deprecating, quite subtle performance, a sideshow to the bromance Oscar will swoon for. But perhaps the catastrophe come Oscar night will not be Bonham Carter's.

Follow THR's The Race Awards blog on Twitter: @timappelo.
Feedback, brickbats, shameless lobbying to: Tim.Appelo@thr.com.