WHY ANGELINA JOLIE WILL WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR CHANGELING: Because she gave a good performance. Because she gave a good performance outside of her comfort zone, playing in a period piece that didn’t lend itself to her natural strengths. Because she’s one of the few relatively bankable actresses in Hollywood and people want to reward that sort of consistency. Because she’s just kind of cool.
WHY ANGELINA JOLIE WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR CHANGELING: Because she gave a good performance, but it was in a pretty mediocre movie. Because she scored a statue pretty early on in her career (for Girl, Interrupted) and while she’s great and all, she’s not “already needs two Academy Awards great” or “Meryl Streep great.” Because there is a chunk of Hollywood society that Does Not Approve of what she did to end up with Brad Pitt, and they unfortunately do vote for awards.
WHY MELISSA LEO WILL WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR FROZEN RIVER: Because it was a tough, gritty, inspired performance, the kind that comes along once in most actors’ careers, and deserving of recognition. Because sometimes people decide they want the underdog to win. Because the screener campaign for the movie has been dedicated and has won over a lot of new fans.
WHY MELISSA RIVER WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR FROZEN RIVER: Because it was a tough, gritty, inspired performance that nobody saw before three weeks ago. Because nobody knows who she is. Because screener campaign or no, not enough people have seen the movie to give her the win. Because it was a once-in-an-actor’s-career performance, except that she’s not up against “most actors.”
WHY ANNE HATHAWAY WILL WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR RACHEL GETTING MARRIED: Because she is a pretty, relatively young ingenue, and Oscar loves to give awards to pretty young ingenues. Because she is a pretty young ingenue, but also a pretty young ingenue with obvious acting talent. Because she took a complex role in a multilayered movie and made it the most compelling thing on screen. Because she’s a natural comedienne who worked in dramatic territory and did so with verve and poise.
WHY ANNE HATHAWAY WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR RACHEL GETTING MARRIED: Because Oscar loves pretty young ingenues, but a lot of voters hate pretty young ingenues, for all the reasons you might expect, and sometimes they don’t split off their votes. Because Jonathan Demme’s shakycam in the movie turned off a lot of viewers who might otherwise have voted for her. Because everybody remembers what happened with Mira Sorvino and doesn’t want to repeat that (and it already seems to be repeating itself with Halle Berry).
WHY MERYL STREEP WILL WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR DOUBT: Because she is Meryl fucking Streep, the best goddamned actress of her generation and still the best actress working in Hollywood today. Because she took on a movie with some of the top rising talents in Hollywood and made everybody remember what real brilliance looks like. Because she looked like the Terminator in a wimple, until she didn’t. Because even though this is her fifteenth nomination – let me repeat that, her fifteenth – she’s only won the statue twice, and not since 1983.
WHY MERYL STREEP WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR DOUBT: Because she has fifteen nominations and is a living legend already. Because Doubt, fine performances aside, is a boring movie and nobody will be renting it in two years’ time, much less ten. Because there are actresses in the category even more overdue for a win than she is.
WHY KATE WINSLET WILL WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR THE READER: Because this is her fifth nomination and she hasn’t won a statue yet despite being probably the go-to actress under 35 for goddamned great work. Because she gave not one but two award-worthy performances this year (in this and Revolutionary Road) and the two together will form a juggernaut of support for her. Because The Reader has a lot of Kate Winslet having sex in it.
WHY KATE WINSLET WILL NOT WIN BEST ACTRESS FOR THE READER: Because The Reader is okay, but it’s not even close to her best work. Because people are used to not voting for Kate Winslet. Because the idea of Kate Winslet winning an Academy Award for a movie about the Holocaust after appearing in Extras as herself doing a movie about the Holocaust especially to win an Oscar is the sort of thing that makes voters go “eeep.”