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Pros and cons of Oscar's nominated actresses

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BEST ACTRESS
   

Sandra Bullock
"The Blind Side"

Pro: Bullock has huge momentum from her Golden Globes and SAG wins, bolstered by the film's best picture nom. She gets the anti-elitist vote, which worked for Julia Roberts with "Erin Brockovich" in 2001.
Con: She's never been nominated before and fights the perception of being a commercial actress.

 

Helen Mirren
"The Last Station"

Pro: Period performances have won the past three years (Kate Winslet last year for "The Reader," Marion Cotillard in 2008 for "La vie en rose" and Mirren in 2007 for "The Queen").
Con: She won three years ago. And too few voters have seen the film.

 

Carey Mulligan
"An Education"

Pro: Mulligan benefits from being a fresh face in the crowd. She also could benefit from Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock splitting the establishment vote.
Con: An early favorite but she has lost momentum to Bullock and Streep.

 

Gabourey Sidibe
"Precious"

Pro: She has been appearing on TV to show she's completely unlike the sullen, inarticulate Precious.
Con: Mo'Nique will likely steal Sidibe's thunder in the supporting category. But for a first-time actress, the nomination will be reward enough.

 

Meryl Streep
"Julie & Julia"

Pro: She's the most-nominated actor in Academy history (with a staggering 16 noms), and she hasn't actually won in 27 years.
Con: She already has two Oscars. The Academy's goodwill for Bullock will likely trump its respect for Streep.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
   

Penelope Cruz
"Nine"

Pro: The only contender who sings and dances, Cruz proved her appeal to the Academy with a win last year for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona."
Con: She just won, and the reviews for "Nine" were not great.

 

Vera Farmiga
"Up in the Air"

Pro: Voters tend to reward reliably strong actresses who finally nab their first nomination. Farmiga matches wits with George Clooney, no easy task.
Con: SAG and Globes noms but no wins. She might split votes with her "Up in the Air" co-star.

 

Maggie Gyllenhaal
"Crazy Heart"

Pro: Voters might consider Gyllenhaal and Jeff Bridges a one-two punch of superior acting.
Con: A surprise nominee, and the movie is considered the Bridges show.

 

Anna Kendrick
"Up in the Air"

Pro: The Academy often rewards a newcomer in this category. Remember Goldie Hawn ("Cactus Flower" in 1970) and Angelina Jolie ("Girl, Interrupted" in 2000)?
Con: Will split votes with Farmiga. "Up in the Air" has lost momentum in recent weeks.

 

Mo'Nique
"Precious"

Pro: She's won all the indicator awards, overcoming early rumors that she wouldn't campaign. Colorful villains have always lured Oscar.
Con: None. An upset here would be the biggest surprise in many years.