Oscar: Lead actress

Why she’ll win: Simply put, she’s far and away the most respected actress of her generation, and in “Doubt’s” Sister Aloysius she found a meaty, deceptively nuanced role to throw her substantial weight behind. Such a combination could easily prove unbeatable.

Maybe not: Considering Streep’s stratospherically high standards, even minor quibbles with her work can start to take on the air of major flaws. And a number of critics had minor quibbles with her performance.

Critical quote: “In the past, Streep, great as she is, often seemed armored by her phenomenal facility. She had everything a performer could hope for — except spontaneity. But she has opened up her acting in the past few years and let down her guard. … Despite outward appearances, I think her work in ‘Doubt’ is likewise unfettered. To call her work as Sister Aloysius stagey is to miss the point: For this nun, all the world’s a stage,” says Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor.

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