It's never been like this before in Oscar history. Last year I successfully predicted in the fall (it's on my blog so there's proof) Marion Cotillard would win the Oscar for Best Actress for La Vie en Rose. Why did I predict her? Here's why: 1999 Hillary Swank as Brandon Teena, real person. 2000 - Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich, real person. 2002 - Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf, real person. 2003 - Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos, real person. 2005 - Reese Witherspoon as June Carter, real person. 2006 - Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, real person. In the last nine tries only two (Halle Berry for Monster's Ball and Hillary Swank for Million Dollar Baby) fictional character portrayals have won the Oscar. Go through Oscar history and you'll not find another run like that. The Best Actor award hasn't gone the same way. Yes they had three consecutive years of "Real Person" Oscars (Ray, Capote, The Last King of Scotland) but over the same nine year period fictional characters still lead 5 -4.
So who's Best Actress this year? I don't know yet but I'd put more money on the "Real Person" portrayals than any of the others. Sophie Okonedo seems like a top candidate. The movie, Skin, is a true story and a harrowing one filled with, I'm assuming, pathos and drama. But she's unknown you say. And how many people knew Marion Cotillard before last year? And when it comes to "harrowing story" Oscar doesn't seem to care much for whether you're known or not starting with 1999 when only Beverly Hills 90210 fans knew who Hillary Swank was.
Drew Barrymore's another possibility for Grey Gardens but I'm not convinced she'll be good enough in the role or that the Oscar crowd particularly likes her. Emily Watson is playing another historical character from the Stalin period in Within the Whirlwind so that's a possibility too. But for now I'd say the "Real Person" front runner is Sophie. And the "Fictional Person" front runner? I'll say Kate Winslet. Maybe Meryl Streep for Doubt but Oscar seems to accept that Streep has proven herself, has her Oscars and thus they are satisfied to simply keep nominating her rather than awarding her. So, yeah, I'll stick with Sophie and Kate as my two front runners. For now.