There have been some absolutely amazing years in the race for the Best Actress Oscar.
Take 1988 when Jodie Foster's performance in "The Accused" edged out what may have been career turns by Glenn Close in "Dangerous Laisons" and Sigourney Weaver in "Gorillas in the Mist." And you can't overlook one of Meryl Streep's all-time top five with "A Cry in the Dark" that year either. Or, 2002 where Nicole Kidman won for "The Hours," but faced heavy competition from Julianne Moore in "Far From Heaven," Salma Hayek in "Frida," Diane Lane in "Unfaithful" and Renee Zellweger in "Chicago." You can even go back to 1967 and see that winner Katherine Hepburn's role in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" had to squeak by fellow nominees Anne Bancroft for "The Graduate," Faye Dunaway for "Bonnie and Clyde" and Audrey Hepburn for "Wait Until Dark." All examples of the the drama that makes the Academy Awards show itself so exciting to watch. Well, let's make one thing perfectly clear: 2010 is not one of those years.
There have been some weak pools of candidates in the best actress race over the past decade, but 2010 may find even Academy members raising their eyebrows over who gets in once nominations are announced. Sure, there are clear and deserving actresses such as Carey Mulligan for "An Education" and Meryl Streep for "Julie & Julia," but beyond that? Either the pickings are slim, the potential contenders have big negatives to overcome or worse, no one to push their deserving work. In fact, this is one race where the fog won't even settle after critic's groups and other awards season programs such as the Golden Globes and SAG Awards make their picks. You can be guaranteed there will be a few surprises in who makes the ladies final five when all is said and done (and no fanboys, don't even dream about Zoe Saldana getting in for "Avatar").
Click here to take an indepth gander at the pros and cons of this year's pool of potential nominees and share your thoughts below.
Look for the much more competitive supporting categories, director and additional contender breakdowns in the weeks to come. For a rundown on the 2010 Best Picture contenders, click here. For a breakdown on the Best Actor race, click here.