Why she will win: Hunt benefits from having the most screen time of all the nominees: her warm, lived-in turn as an unorthodox sex therapist is arguably a leading performance. She hasn’t had a role this substantial since winning the Oscar for “As Good as It Gets” 15 years ago, and voters love a comeback kid.

Best scene: Discovering and reading the love letter written to her by her polio-stricken patient (John Hawkes), Hunt’s face subtly registers her split personal and professional impulses. It’s typical of a perf that balances brisk pragmatism with empathetic tenderness.

Critic’s quote: “Hunt is a prodigy. No other actress could have brought such easeful transparency, such a glow of givingness, such heedlessness of glamour each time she strips naked,” says Nigel Andrews of the Financial Times.

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