Almost every damn year the same thing happens. Journalists who’ve attended the Berlin or Cannes festivals praise a knockout performance in a small or foreign indie release (like Adele Exarchopoulos in Blue Is The Warmest Color) and mention the idea of this actor or actress being a contender on the awards circuit, and right away the middle-of-the-road handicappers say “well, that’s very nice but veteran industry types and journalists in this country are more comfortable with nominating familiar faces, and so we think that the following brand-name actresses are the likeliest contenders.”

Except by saying and writing this crap they’re perpetuating default thinking. They’re not describing industry complacency — they’re winking at it and nudging it along.

And so Exarchopoulos’s performance is already getting elbowed aside in people’s minds in anticipation of what they believe will be power-punch performances by a few brand-name actresses — Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks, Judi Dench in Philomena, Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, Amy Adams in American Hustle, Kate Winslet in Labor Day. On top of the recently-seen and praised performance by Blue Jasmine‘s Cate Blanchett.

For all I know the perfs by Thompson, Winslet, Dench, Roberts or Adams will blow away Exarchopoulos or Blanchett or Short Term 12‘s Brie Larson, but to give the brand ladies an edge in a spitball prediction piece at this stage of the game is bullshit. It’s all about kowtowing to famous faces because they’re famous, and because they’re backed by big-money advertisers. Now is the time to think freely and provocatively and…you know, throw the lettuce leaves in the air. The fall festivals haven’t even started yet.