The BAFTAs complicated this assessment somewhat, but at least we can predict with a reasonable degree of confidence who isn't going to win. And now, the firm of Streep Davis & Others, LLC…
Viola Davis (The Help): The early leader until Streep snagged the BAFTA, Davis makes the movie around her performance seem better than it is by association -- more thoughtful, more credible. She's really good. Could still win if voters decide it's the only one The Help should be getting (and I would agree there).
Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo): I enjoyed her, but I might have enjoyed almost anyone; I'm not sure how much of the performance was the character. Good work; no shot.
Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn): Technically accurate but not terribly interesting portrayal of a figure I already found not terribly interesting.
Who shouldn't be here: I would have preferred to see Williams nominated for Meek's Cutoff instead. It's not surprising that movie threw a shutout nominations-wise, though I loved it, but that would likely have been its shot. Close's character is grating, but the performance itself is fine. I don't really take issue with these.
Who should be here, but isn't: Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene, maybe, but I don't feel super-strongly about it.
Who should win: Slight edge to Davis.
Who will win: Slight edge to Streep.
Sarah D. Bunting co-founded Television Without Pity.com, and has written for Seventeen, New York Magazine, MSNBC.com, Salon, Yahoo!, and others. She's the chief cook and bottle-washer at TomatoNation.com. For more on how the Oscars Death Race began, click here.