At this early point on the derby track, the race for best actress looks like a matchup between Gabby Sidibe ("Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire") and Carry Mulligan ("An Education"). I think Gabby is a long mile out front. Her devastating performance is what is most precious about "Precious," the movie with the most Oscar buzz. How can voters deny her? Answer: They can't. Frankly, I think this race is already finished.
Bullets on the list below indicate my projected five nominees. Sandra Bullock is suddenly coming on strong thanks to the surprise success of "The Blind Side," but she certainly can't get out front of Gabby. Or even Carey.
Emily Blunt, "The Young Victoria"
• Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"
Marion Cotillard, "Nine"
Abbie Cornish, "Bright Star"
Zooey Deschanel, "(500) Days of Summer"
Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Crazy Heart"
• Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"
• Carey Mulligan, "An Education"
Saoirse Ronan, "The Lovely Bones"
• Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"
Meryl Streep, "It's Complicated"
• Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia"
Audrey Tautou, "Coco Before Chanel"
Shohreh Aghdashloo, "The Stoning of Soraya M."
Brenda Blethyn, "London River"
Penelope Cruz, "Broken Embraces"
Bryce Dallas Howard, "The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond"
Michelle Monaghan, "Trucker"
Robin Wright, "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee"
Photos: Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Classics