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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oscar Countdown: Best Actress

In advance of the Academy Award ceremony on Sunday, Screen Grab will predict the winners in all categories.

Actress: Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs; Viola Davis, The Help; Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady; Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn. With so many Oscar-watching websites that have gotten so good at analyzing the awards, suspense and surprises seem to have disappeared. Even this supposedly competitive category seems a fait accompli. Glenn Close gives an overly restrained performance, despite Albert Nobbs' cross-dressing gimmick. Rooney Mara is too much a newcomer, despite her nervy work as Lisbeth Salander, and like Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, seems lucky to have made the cut. So it comes down to Meryl Streep's aging Margaret Thatcher vs. Viola Davis' seething but supportive housekeeper.

Prediction: Davis. Meryl Streep routinely gives excellent turns in otherwise middling movies. (Which was her last great film? Adaptation?) As much as people admire her work in The Iron Lady, nobody seems particularly enamored of the movie. The Help might not be a great movie, but it's highly popular, earning twice as much as its next-highest grossing Oscar nominee. Davis gives a powerful performance and has been nominated before, although one could quibble whether she's actually the leading character of The Help.

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