Let's pretend that I've nailed Oscars' best-actress rundown correctly (oh, come on — when have my predix ever been wrong?). Now you tell me who will win.
Keep in mind that, if I'm right about "Sweeney Todd" being the frontrunner to win the top Oscar, the best-picture champ often claims a lead-acting prize, too. (Russell Crowe in "Gladiator," Hilary Swank in "Million Dollar Baby.") Sure, Johnny Depp would be most likely to nab that trophy since he's got the title role, but on three occasions in the past both best actor and actress joined the top winner ("It Happened One Night," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Silence of the Lambs").
Therefore, the odds may be remote that Helen Bonham Carter would get that companion Oscar, if only one is bestowed, but it's possible. Both male and female leads (Len Cariou, Angela Lansbury) won Tony Awards for the Broadway production, which won best musical in 1979, but director Tim Burton has trimmed back the role of Sweeney sweetheart wannabe Mrs. Lovett — yes, even though she's played on screen by Burton's own sweetheart in real life — so that must diminish her dramatic impact somewhat. Nonetheless, I'm assured by a source close to the film that she still "breaks your heart."
If not Helena Bonham Carter, then perhaps Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") has the lead in this race, given that she portrays a real-life character (Edith Piaf) like last year's champ Helen Mirren (Queenie Liz II, of course). Beware: Ellen Page ("Juno") is a knock-out and we know how much voters love ingenues (Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank the first time she won for "Boys Don't Cry"). And veterans — like Julie Christie, who triumphed in 1966 for "Darling." Christie was nominated most recently in 1998 for "Afterglow," which was touted as a big comeback for her then just like "Away from Her" now, but she lost to Helen Hunt ("As Good As It Gets").
If "Atonement" wins best picture, as many pundits predict, then that boosts the hopes of Keira Knightley, of course, but keep in mind that she's got limited screen time. She's only in about half of the film, but, heck, Nicole Kidman wasn't even in a third of "The Hours" and still prevailed.