1. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
2. Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
3. Marion Cotillard (Rust & Bone)
4. Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
5. Helen Mirren (Hitchcock)
Alternative: Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed)
Jennifer Lawrence is the biggest addition to this category after the Toronto festival gave her film a major boost. Some pundits have already chalked her up as the winner, which sounds a bit premature to me, but hey, it’s not like anybody else here looks like they can take the gold man home. Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s film was well-received at Sundance but she didn’t exactly look like a nominee until it became clear that the fall festival trifecta was not going to give us any new contenders other than Lawrence, so now she’s back in the race. I wonder if Smashed is going to be big enough to get her major notices though. She’ll surely be the film’s only nomination, so having not seen the film yet, I wonder if her performance is strong enough to make that happen. On the other hand, I don’t see the Academy nominating two French-speaking performances in the same year either, so Emmanuelle Riva’s going to have a really tough battle. Is she going to campaign for it? If not her or Winstead, then who? Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina) is the most obvious answer, but for now, I’m guessing the divisive reaction to her film will leave her out, which will leave us with Helen Mirren, who’s just recently been added to the race with Hitchcock.