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Julie Delpy - "Before Midnight"
Pros: Delpy really deserves to be at the top of consideration in this category, and it's actually a little infuriating that she probably won't be. But these are meant to be "pros," so let's see: Carving out a three-dimensional female character with rich complexities over the course of three films and 18 years? Growing that character throughout and, in the third of a trilogy, finding more nuanced flavor than most of the other performances on this list? Yeah, there is lots to praise here.
Cons: The problem, though, is it's a small film that came out way back in May and already will have to fight for the Best Adapted Screenplay nod so many of us are predicting for it. Plus, some will take issue with how abrasive Delpy's performance is, even going so far as to view her character as unlikable. Of course, that would be missing the magic Delpy conjures here by not fearing a passionate portrayal.