Role: Rosalyn Rosenfeld, the luscious bimbo wife of a con man working for the feds.
In her favor: That epic updo. Those delirious line readings. That scene in which she sings “Live and Let Die” while wearing yellow rubber gloves. Plus, everyone loves her.
Then again: Pffft. She’s got it.
“12 Years a Slave”
Role: Patsey, a beautiful, hardworking slave adored yet tortured by her vicious master.
In her favor: In her first screen role, she radiates the charisma of a movie goddess, which is entirely appropriate for her magnetic character. And when she suffers, so do we.
Then again: Her horrific flogging scene may be precisely the moment voters turn their DVD player off.
“August: Osage County”
Role: Barb Weston, the pinched, resentful eldest child of a very nasty mama.
In her favor: Her key moment, a roll-on-the-floor rumble with Meryl Streep, is undeniably memorable …
Then again: … but not in a good way. Her oh-so-sassy attitude and ripe dialogue (“Eat the fish!”) will fuel more drag tributes than awards clips.
Role: Kate Grant, the sniping, foul-mouthed wife of a dreamer who thinks he’s won a fortune.
In her favor: Her Mrs. Claus appearance sets you up for the sucker punch of her salty, bitter dialogue. She walks off with every scene she’s in.
Then again: Older actresses don’t often score in this category: There have been only 12 winners over 50 in 77 years.
Role: Ginger, the salt-of-the-earth sister of Cate Blanchett’s flighty socialite.
In her favor: As foil to the brittle Jasmine, her warmth practically radiates off the screen. And she benefits from the Woody Allen touch.
Then again: She was largely ignored in the precursor awards —not an optimistic sign.
“Blue Is the Warmest Color”
Role: Adele, a French teen experiencing first love and heartbreak with an older woman.
In her favor: Her performance is emotionally and sexually graphic.
Then again: This subtle performance doesn’t shout “LOOK AT ME ACTING!”