At this time last year, Mo'Nique was already out front in the Oscar race for best supporting actress based upon the early buzz generated by "Precious" at the Sundance Film Festival. And there was no stopping her thereafter, of course. This year, there is no leader.
Some pundits say Helena Bonham Carter is ahead thanks to "The King's Speech's" status as a best picture front-runner, but, truth be told, her role as the beloved "queen mum" Elizabeth isn't very expressive. Other seers say Dianne Wiest is ahead for portraying Nicole Kidman's doting mom in "Rabbit Hole," but that's just because she's an automatic Oscar grabber with past victories for "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Bullets Over Broadway."
Lots of Oscarologists are betting on Hailee Steinfeld because she's got the grandstanding role as a sassy tomboy in "True Grit," but that didn't help Kim Darby in 1969. Even though Darby stole every scene of the original film version (some from feisty John Wayne, who nabbed the gold for lead actor), she wasn't even nominated.
So what about Jacki Weaver, whose "Animal Kingdom" led with the most nominations at the Australian Film Institute Awards today? Read more here.
This is one of those Oscar categories that usually becomes more clear once we've heard from the film-critics' awards in early December — after they picked the likes of Marcia Gay Harden ("Pollock") or Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona") in past years.
Photos: "True Grit" (Paramount), "The King's Speech" (Weinstein).