Jessica Chastain "The Tree of Life"
Marion Cotillard "Midnight in Paris" or "Contagion"
Viola Davis "The Help"
Kiera Knightley "A Dangerous Method"
Marisa Tomei "The Ides of March"
Other Possibilities - Kate Winslet "Contagion", Gwyenth Paltrow "Contagion", Evan Rachel Wood "The Ides of March", Carey Mulligan "Drive", Chloe Moretz "Hugo Cabret", Amy Ryan "Win Win", Allison Janey "The Help", Octavia Spencer "The Help", Patricia Clarkson "One Day", Judi Dench "J. Edgar", Naomi Watts "J. Edgar"
Commentary - This is a stacked category this year, with plenty of potential nominees to choose from. Jessica Chastain's name has been thrown around every year that we thought The Tree of Life was coming out, so if her performance is a good as her buzz, she is definitely a contender. Marion Cotillard has missed out on many deserved nominations since her suprise Oscar win, and this year has two big projects, Midnight in Paris and Contagion, coming out, which should push her back into the derby. Since her Oscar nod in 2005, Viola Davis has risen into many people's conscious, and with August's The Help, she has a real potential to shine, and once again show everyone why she is one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood. A Dangerous Mind is one that I have missed on earlier predictions, and in the next State of the Race will reconsider in the other categories. That being said, Kiera Knightley looks like she could easily get some attention for her role in the film. Finally I went with past Academy favorite Marisa Tomei, simply because she is in a buzzed project, and continually churns out excellent roles that get noticed by the Academy.