Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie in Changeling
Melissa Leo in Frozen River
Meryl Streep in Doubt
Kate Winslet in The Reader
A human trafficker, an illiterate SS guard, a narcissistic addict, a grieving mother—the characters who grabbed the Academy's attention for Best Actress are a decidedly benighted bunch.
O's Winner Is...
Anne Hathaway is probably too young to win, Melissa Leo too unknown, and Meryl Streep (as an imperious nun) and Angelina Jolie have been Oscar'ed before. That leaves Kate Winslet as the sympathetic favorite, especially since she gave one of 2008's other standout performances as the suffocating housewife in Revolutionary Road.
Missing in Action
Golden Globe® winner Sally Hawkins as the aggressively cheerful schoolteacher in Happy-Go-Lucky and Michelle Williams as the unlucky wayfarer in Wendy and Lucy.
Frozen River got a blink-and-you'd-miss-it theatrical release, but Oscar® completists can cram by renting the just-out disc.