Oscars 2013: Can anyone stop Anne Hathaway?
I've looked already at several Oscar categories this year -- the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture races -- but the true battle, I believe, lies with the five women vying for the Supporting Actress trophy.
Here's a look at the category that looks like a 'lock' but has every chance to surprise:
Amy Adams - The Master
Adams provides the most powerful, most nuanced and most exceptional performance on this list.
Her character Peggy serves as both the antagonist's muse and the protagonist's hope, with several shades in between.
We should just up and hand her the Oscar anyway, but that would happen in a world where the Academy would understand films like The Master.
For now, we can just sit back and marvel at the character Adams creates: so real and human and yet we remain unconvinced about the colour of her eyes.
Image: A scene from The Master
Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
Look, I loathed Les Miserables.
Tom Hooper's adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel is screechy, overbearing and nearly three hours of pomposity set to music, and shot in close-up. It's a bloody pain.
But Anne Hathaway shines through it anyway. Fantine is one of the great tragic heroines of the stage and Hathaway's performance is evocative and deeply touching. It's also showy enough for voters to applaud unanimously.
Image: Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables
Helen Hunt - The Sessions
If this were an Oscar for bravery, Hunt would win it hands down. And I don't just mean for taking her clothes off.
Hunt's performance in The Sessions is heartwarming, funny and one that is likely to remain with audiences long after the closing credits.
Does she deserve the Oscar? Definitely, and in a year without Adams I'd have been rooting for Hunt. But this year Hathaway looks like a lock.
Image: Helen Hunt - The Sessions
Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook
Weaver's a very good actress, something we've seen evidenced more in the past than in David O Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, where she gets to wear mostly the same pained-perplexed expression throughout the film.
Her character is rightfully wary of the freaks peopling her life, but is it a performance worthy of a prize? No, and in a category this hard-fought, it's barely worthy of a nomination.
Image: Jacki Weaver - Silver Linings Playbook
Sally Field - Lincoln
Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner gave their men long and winding speeches, anecdotes and zingers in Lincoln, but Field -- as Abe's longstanding and long-suffering wife Mary Todd Lincoln -- is the one who gives the movie its heart. She brings a heady melancholia to the role, unwilling to sacrifice their family life for four more thankless years in the Presidency.
It's a striking performance, but Field's the only one of these nominees who has won before, and the Academy is likely to look the other way.
Image: Sally Field - Lincoln