Lead actresses in the mix

Williams, Manville in the awards discussion

Halle Berry, “Frankie & Alice”
A latecomer into the race, Berry’s impressive perf as a woman suffering from multiple personalities may grab the attention of some Academy voters. However, if the last-minute inclusion feels like a kudos grab, the maneuver could backfire.

Patricia Clarkson, “Cairo Time”
Her character actress standing fully intact, Clarkson finally got to topline this eye-opening pic about an American’s journey in the Middle East. The film hasn’t drawn much awards discussion, but her reserved and memorable turn deserves attention.

Diane Lane, “Secretariat”
Lane carries the Disney pic as Penny Chenery, the famed horse’s owner who not only competed but thrived in the then all-male Sport of Kings. This well-crafted film had box office legs long after its early October debut.

Lesley Manville, “Another Year”
A long-standing member of the Mike Leigh troupe, Manville steals this gem of a film as a family friend who has a difficult time understanding boundaries. Competing in the supporting category would’ve probably helped her chances, but the powers that be felt the perf was worthy of lead status. It’s a healthy argument, but lead is filled with terrific turns. That makes Manville’s Oscar journey harder but certainly not impossible.

Gwyneth Paltrow, “Country Strong”
Look no further than “Crazy Heart” or “Walk the Line” to be convinced that the Acad appreciates a thesp who knows how to carry a tune. Paltrow fits the bill here, and if the film is strong, her chances could improve.

Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”
Williams offers one of the year’s most multidimensional perfs in a film that has been scarred by its NC-17 rating. Her often-troubled on-screen relationship with Ryan Gosling was both heartbreaking and uplifting.

More from Eye on the Oscars: The Actress:
Young actresses not looking for celeb status
Annette Bening | Sally Hawkins | Nicole Kidman | Jennifer Lawrence | Natalie Portman | Tilda Swinton
Lead actresses in the mix
Amy Adams | Helena Bonham Carter | Melissa Leo | Miranda Richardson | Jacki Weaver | Dianne Wiest
Supporting actresses in the mix

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