Already competing for the five slots are nine front-runners with 10 roles: Cate Blanchett ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"), Sally Hawkins ("Happy-Go-Lucky"), Angelina Jolie ("Changeling"), Nicole Kidman ("Australia"), Keira Knightley ("The Duchess"), Melissa Leo ("Frozen River"), Meryl Streep ("Doubt"), Kristin Scott Thomas ("I’ve Loved You So Long") and Kate Winslet ("Revolutionary Road" and "The Reader"). Plus lots of other gals angling to get in, like Michelle Williams ("Wendy and Lucy") and Emma Thompson ("Last Chance Harvey").
However, Hathaway has a few strong factors in her favor. She may be known chiefly as the star of popcorn pix such as "The Princess Diaries" and "Get Smart," but Oscar has doled out nominations to other stars like her who've made the crossover to "serious" films. Before being nominated for "Leaving Las Vegas," Elisabeth Shue was known mostly for commercial fare such as "Cocktail," "Adventures in Babysitting" and "Back to the Future II and III." Before she won for "Monster," the standout films of Charlize Theron's career were "The Devil's Advocate," "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" and "The Italian Job." Nicole Kidman's Oscar-winning turn in "The Hours" was a radical departure from previous pix like "Dead Calm," "To Die For" and "Days of Thunder."
Another thing Anne Hathaway has going for her is the randy nature of Hollywood's naked Golden Boy. He loves actresses with goody-goody reputations who dare to take on naughty roles.
Just a few years after she portrayed a wholesome housewife in "It's a Wonderful Life," Oscar gave Donna Reed a generous tip for turning to prostitution in "From Here to Eternity" — a trophy as best supporting actress. Julia Roberts got a nomination in the lead race for taking up the same job in "Pretty Woman." The original "America's Sweetheart," Mary Pickford, didn't become so risqué to win her best-actress prize, but "Coquette" ended up causing a national uproar — not for her role as a reckless socialite, but for revealing a new hairdo: a bob. The news was so shocking that it made the front page of the New York Times.
(United Artists, Buena Vista, Columbia Pictures, Miramax, Sony Pictures Classics)