A colorful array of performances from legends and newcomers alike
Carey Mulligan - "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Pros: Voters fell in love with Mulligan four years ago, nominating her breakout performance as a winsome schoolgirl in "An Education." Here, she's playing very much against type with her pithy, hilarious turn as an embittered, blasé folk musician in the Coen brothers' universally beloved latest. That surprise factor works in her favor, as does the film's critical standing.
Cons: Hers is the coldest character in a film that isn't too warm and fuzzy itself, and her performance is practically an extended cameo in its brevity. The Academy will have to latch onto “Llewyn” in a big way for this to happen.