Will win/should win:
Role: Soonja, the grandmother from South Korea who helps a family come together.
In her favor: American audiences are unlikely to be familiar with this Korean star, a fact she capitalizes on by repeatedly surprising us with Soonja's bluntly hilarious behavior. A veteran who's also sort of a newcomer, she may strike a nice balance for voters.
Then again: Does her unfamiliarity leave her without a voting constituency?
"Borat Subsequent Moviefilm"
Role: Tutar, Borat's long-suffering but surprisingly game daughter.
In her favor: Not only is there a huge level of difficulty in writer/star Sacha Baron Cohen's improvised way of working with nonprofessionals, but Bakalova completely vanishes into her role.
Then again: Bakalova has a future in the movie biz but she doesn't have much of a past. The others in her category all do.
Role: Grandmother Mamaw, who connects the main character to his Southern roots and helps him escape them.
In her favor: Eight times, Oscar voters have sent her to the ceremony with a nomination, so it's clear Close's peers admire her acting and ability to pull off heinous wigs.
Then again: As with her last nod for "The Wife," they may not be willing to hold their noses long enough to reward good work in a dog of a movie.
Role: Anne, who's struggling to figure out what's best for her ailing dad.
In her favor: Colman is a perfect 1-for-1, winning two years ago for the flashy "The Favourite." Similar to her work on TV's "Broadchurch," this is a more realistic but deeply emotional role. Also, the Oscars love a Brit.
Then again: The performance would have to be undeniable for her to win again so soon, and this may not be that.
Role: Actor Marion Davies, whose nickname reputedly is the source of the word "Rosebud" in "Citizen Kane."
In her favor: Audiences have been divided on whether to invest in an inside-Hollywood story from 80 years ago, but everyone agrees Seyfried's spontaneity breathes life into the drama.
Then again: Her momentum seems to have dissipated as new contenders have emerged.
Missed the cut:
"Pieces of a Woman"
Role: Elizabeth, a wealthy and manipulative mother.
Why she had a chance: Burstyn humanizes what could be a stock villain role. It would have been a great story for her to earn her first nomination since "Requiem for a Dream," two decades ago. Refreshingly, she was open about wanting it.
Then again: She has been absent in the awards conversation this season.