Oscar Predictions: Will a ‘Black Swan’ or Hollywood legend win best actress?

2010 was actually a pretty impressive year for the leading ladies in the best actress category. Especially when you consider that acclaimed performances by Tilda Swinton, Leslie Manville, Carey Mulligan and Julianne Moore didn’t make the cut.  Moreover, unlike best actor or best supporting actor, there is actually a chance for an upset.  Whether that possibility is being overinflated by the press remains to be seen, but it’s certainly made the frontrunner’s camp a tad nervous.  With that in mind, let’s review this year’s field shall we?

“Rabbit Hole” wasn’t the awards player many thought it would be, but the moving drama featured Nicole Kidman’s best work in years. This is Kidman’s first nomination since “The Hours” eight years ago and she’ll be first to admit she’s glad she’s back in the game.

Most moviegoers will discover Jennifer Lawrence this summer when she plays the blue skinned Mystique in “X-Men: First Class,” but the 20-year-old actress first got Hollywood’s attention as a serious actress by her unexpectedly strong work in the Sundance hit “Winter’s Bone.”  Like many other nominees this year, however, the nominaiton is the win for Lawrence.  You can pretty much guarantee she’ll be back at the Kodak with another nomination down the road.

Box office glory seems far from the mind of Michelle Williams, but the former nominee for “Brokeback Mountain” continues to fashion a body of work that features daring and rich performances.  Williams’ career is turning into somethin very, very special and her emotional turn in “Blue Valentine is her best work to date.

Like Williams, “Black Swan’s” Natalie Portman has received her second Academy Award nomination this year.  She’s already won the Golden Globe, a SAG Award and a BAFTA Award for an on the edge performance that has already entered the pop culture lexicon.  Can the Academy really deny this future mother her time in the spotlight?

The only contender who could ruin Portman’s coronation is Annette Bening.  A four-time nominee, “The Kids Are All Right” star has lost twice to Hilary Swank over the years and watched Portman sweep all the early contest this time around. However, Bening is considered old school Hollywood royalty and sentiment for her to finally win has been growing since the nominations were announced.

Your Winner: It’s going to be very, very close, but Natalie Portman should still be honored with her first Academy Award for “Black Swan.”  As great as Bening is, Portman has the actors branch behind her.  That should be more than enough to seal the deal.

Upset Contender:  If you like to live dangerously or believe in the sentimental vote, only Annette Bening can upset Portman.  And if she does, expect one roar of approval from her many friends in the Kodak Theater crowd.
We’ll find out the results when the 83rd Academy Awards are announced this Sunday at 8 PM ET/ 5 PM PT on ABC.  Visit HitFix for full coverage including red carpet galleries, a live blog of the show, best and worst, analysis, red carpet rewind and more. 

Also, follow Gregory Ellwood on twitter for the last Oscar and entertainment news year round at @HitFixGregory.

Other Awards Campaign predictions:

Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Actor

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