Raja Sen in Mumbai
The Best Actress category at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards seems like a straight fight between Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock but the two unlikely combatants aren't a shoo-in by any standard.
The Academy loves Helen Mirren, and one can't count out upset wins for young talents like Gabourey Sidibe and Carey Mulligan.
Let's take a closer look at the nominees.
Sandra Bullock, The Blind SideImage: The Blind Slide trailer
A patently boring football drama sees Sandra Bullock suddenly 'go serious' after a seemingly unending string of forgettable romantic comedies over the last few years.
It's a perfectly fine but predictable performance, and has been getting immense awards-season love over the last few weeks.
Bullock's a pretty well-set nominee, considering the Oscars seem to smile at actors making the leap towards actual acting. But then there's Streep.
Helen Mirren, The Last StationImage: The Last Station trailer
Mirren is a stellar performer and a favourite of critics and award juries constantly, picking up her Best Actress Oscar not so long ago for The Queen.
This year she's back in biopic territory with Michael Hoffman's The Last Station, where she plays Countess Sofya Tolstoy.
Her co-star Christopher Plummer is 80 and up for a Supporting Actor prize, but that category seems to be owned by Christoph Waltz of Inglourious Basterds.
Which is why Mirren might get the award just to give the highly reviewed film some due.
Carey Mulligan, An EducationImage: An Education trailer
Mulligan is clearly the best thing in An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig. The preternaturally gifted actress plays a schoolgirl who falls for -- and is eventually left heartbroken by -- a much older charmer, and she shines in the role.
Mulligan's only hope is that the Oscar votes split between Streep and Bullock, pushing her to the front as a popular second-choice vote.
It's not unlikely at all, especially since the Best Actress category often recognises bright young stars.
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based On The Novel Push By SapphireImage: Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire trailer
All the award buzz for Lee Daniel's film has been dominated by Mo'nique, the clear heavyweight in the Best Supporting Actress category this year.
Sidibe, however, also has a compelling backstory, the non-actress making her debut with this massively applauded film.
The only way it seems possible for Sidibe to win would be if Mo'nique loses, and she gets a consolatory award for the film very probably losing out on the bigger awards anyway.
And while Mo'nique might seem like a shoo-in now, her category includes the Up In The Air ladies and Penelope Cruz, so there is hope.
Meryl Streep, Julie & JuliaImage: Julie and Julia trailer
Like her Bridges of Madison County co-star Clint Eastwood, it seems obligatory for the Oscars to nominate Streep. The actress has an unbelievable 16 Oscar nominations, a tremendous record.
This year's film sees her in a wonderfully joyous role, and while it doesn't rate alongside her most dramatic work, it is a fine light role and sees her as a real person, the iconic chef Julia Child. Always a good thing, come award season.
Betting on Streep is the safest choice for the category, especially since it is often felt that an actress of her magnitude should recieve well more than the two Oscars she's won.