By far the most contentious of the major categories, the award for Best Actress is still up in the air three days out from the 85th Academy Awards.
A few factors have clouded the prognosticators predictions for the category. First of all, the front-runners, Emmanuelle Riva, Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence, have yet to compete against each other in one category. While the two actresses, Chastain and Lawrence, won Golden Globes in their respective categories, the latter took the Screen Actors Guild Award over the "Zero Dark Thirty" star.
And speaking of the cinematic hunt for Osama bin Laden, the more karmic-minded predictors have declared an eventual Chastain win as the awards redemption for Kathryn Bigelow's snub, but payback is never the rule at the Oscars. And yet Riva's emotional performance, her age, and her screen legacy make her a threat worth factoring.
With so many things to consider, we did our best to give you an idea of what to expect come Oscar night.
Who Should Win
As much as we don't want to prescribe this "give 'em something" mentality, "Zero Dark Thirty" stands to go largely unacknowledged at this year's Academy Awards, apart from Mark Boal's likely win for Best Original Screenplay. As many sensationalized news stories predicted, the controversy surrounding the film's depiction of torture and what the sequences do or do not imply seems to have impacted its awards presence, which is unfortunate, especially for a film that will very likely be looked back on as one of the most important films of the era. Even on her own merit, Chastain gave a nuanced and stirring performance, the kind too rarely praised by the Academy.
Who Will Win
Are you ready for " 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' starring Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence"? Because you should start preparing your mind for that reality. With controversy likely putting Chastain's chances down for the count, that leaves Riva and Lawrence, two great performances, one much, much easier to like than the other. With two nominations already under her belt, it's a matter of time before Lawrence takes home an Oscar, and this year may very well be the year.