When this pundit attended the world premiere of "Precious," then known as "Push," at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, the entire audience knew the actress and comedienne known as Mo'Nique had delivered a career-defining performance.  To be blunt, it was jaw-droppingly unexpected.

As perhaps one of the most hateful mothers in modern screen history, Mo'Nique accomplished almost the impossible in making the audience teeter on the verge of sympathy for a character you'd grown to hate. It was a role that everyone in that theater knew would be an Oscar player. However, as the days and months progressed, it was clear there was very little competition that could match the intensity of Mo'Nique's work.  But then the media reared its ugly head.

Looking for a story, perhaps wanting to discredit the unconventional contender or for reasons that still aren't clear to this day, a number of journalists began harping on the fact that unlike the rest of her co-stars, Mo'Nique had not attended the film's premiere at the Toronto Film Festival or the New York Film Festival ("how dare she not hit the campaign trail").  Rumors, that were never verified mind you, spread that Mo'Nique had insisted she be paid for those appearing at those red carpet events and to promote the film in general.  What was completely missing from their reports, of course, was that Mo'Nique was busy in Atlanta getting her new weekly BET talk show ready to launch and then actually shooting the show on a nightly basis.  She did appear at a "Precious'" screening at the Oscar-friendly AFI Fest at the beginning of November, but her demeanor displayed how disappointed she must have been to feel she "had" to be there. 

It's hard for the media to believe, but contenders are not required to campaign.  And a majority of Academy members don't see it as a necessity either (thank god).  In fact, this year, George Clooney hardly did any specific Academy campaigning for "Up in the Air" (although he did some immediately before the nomination deadline for "Michael Clayton") nor Meryl Streep for "Julie & Julia," but you hardly heard a cry of criticism from the media regarding those icons.  And in what could only be described as a "in your face" result, Mo'Nique has only gone on to win every major Best Supporting Actress Award this year: the Golden Globes, the Critic's Choice Awards, the SAG Awards and even the Orange British Academy Awards among others.  It's an excellent reminder that even in a business where publicists strategize on a daily basis on how to win an Oscar, sometimes it's just about the work.  Imagine that.


OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE


The nominees:

Penelope Cruz, "Nine"
Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"
Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Crazy Heart"
Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"
Mo'Nique, "Precious: Based on 'Push' a novel by Sapphire"



Who Will Win: Mo'Nique for "Precious"
Who Should Win: Mo'Nique for "Precious"
Upset Contender: Potentially, "Up in the Air's" Kendrick could pull the young ingenue card and upset, but that would be a truly shocking event.  Especially with the expected split vote with her "Air" co-star Farmiga.

Look for more stone cold lock Academy Award predictions over the next week.  [Please note the updated rundown below.]

Best Original Score, Best Original Song

Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Screenplay

Supporting Actor

Director, Editing
*Upcoming

Animated Film, Documentary, Foreign Language Film
Sunday, February 28

Live Action, Animated and Documentary Shorts
Monday, March 1

Cinematography, Production Design, Costumes and Make Up
Tuesday, March 2

Actor
Wednesday, March 3

Actress
Thursday, March 4

Picture, Sound
Friday, March 5