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Penelope Cruz ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona”

Oscar: Supporting actress

Why she’ll win: The film, already a winner before she arrives, leaps to life when her bombastic character is on the screen and seems somewhat deflated when she’s away. She’s been sticking out as a serious actress ever since “Volver” and has certainly crossed over from Spanish thesp to international star.

Maybe not: The surprising lack of a nom for Woody Allen in the original screenplay category may indicate a lack of voter support for the film, despite mostly critical plaudits. Also, the three other films here are December releases while “Vicky” came out in August and may be little more than a fuzzy memory in voters’ minds.

Critical quote: “Cruz, who officially graduated from sex kitten to powerhouse melodramatic actress in ‘Volver,’ is in full Anna Magnani mode here, storming up and down mountain peaks of emotion and captivating everyone in the process,” says Todd McCarthy of Variety.

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