A colorful array of performances from legends and newcomers alike
Octavia Spencer - "Fruitvale Station"
Pros: Earlier this year, recent winner Spencer seemed a sure bet to pick up her second nomination in this category for her dignified, finally devastating performance as the staunchly principled mother of the slain Oscar Grant. A second win in three years even seemed within reach, with the film hot from its Sundance triumph, and the ever-humming campaign machine of The Weinstein Company behind her.
Cons: She's still in a good position, but the film's buzz has significantly diminished – it performed decently back in the summer, but didn't become the "Beasts of the Southern Wild"-level conversation piece the Weinsteins were aiming for. Can Spencer hang on even as the film's chances of a Best Picture nomination slip?