Oscar Watch: Supporting actress contenders

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Amy Adams
Amy Adams
"Doubt"
Pros: They like her, they really like her.
Cons: They really don't like nuns. OK, so Susan Sarandon won for "Dead Man Walking" (1995) -- but Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews both got shut out for "The Nun's Story" (1959) and "The Sound of Music" (1965).
 
Penelope Cruz
"Vicky Cristina Barcelona"
Pros: Cruz has one losing Oscar nomination to her credit (2007's "Volver"), which means she's paid her dues enough to triumph now. Plus, Woody Allen has a long history of guiding actresses to awards (think Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest).
Cons: Have they forgiven her yet for dating Tom Cruise? Or worse, for starring in 2005's "Sahara"?

Penelope Cruz
 

Viola Davis
Viola Davis
"Doubt"
Pros: The Academy loves underdogs. And with an African-American in the White House, it would be shameful if Oscar didn't recognize a single minority member this year.
Cons: The absence of "Doubt" from the best picture line-up means enthusiasm for the film is tepid.
 
Taraji P. Henson
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
Pros: Henson leaped off the screen in 2005's "Hustle & Flow" and has been adored by insiders ever since. She did the right thing when she dropped out of studying electrical engineering to become an actress -- but it took years for Hollywood to notice. Now she's reaping the benefits of a decade of stellar performances.
Cons: Henson's role in "Benjamin Button" never quite hit the emotional high points. Even her death happens off-camera, muting what might have been a tour-de-force.

Taraji P. Henson
 

Marisa Tomei
Marisa Tomei
"The Wrestler"
Pros: She's back. Sixteen years after winning the Oscar for "My Cousin Vinny" (1992) and seven years after proving that was no fluke with "In the Bedroom" (2001), Tomei has a groundswell of Oscar support.
Cons: The Academy turned its nose up to a hooker in 1995's "Leaving Las Vegas." It could do the same for a pole dancer now.
 
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