Boil the snow out of Pete Hammond‘s 2.20 Envelope piece about possible Oscar stunners, and it comes down to a closer race going on between Best Actress contenders Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep than some people realize.

“A lot of bloggers have been throwing out Melissa Leo as a threat to presumed winner Kate Winslet,” he writes. “Really? How can Kate lose? She’s on the cover of Time magazine this week so it’s over, right?”

Not necessarily, he warns, because “just as in the actor race a strong three-way contest can produce an unexpected result.

“A lot, I mean A LOT of voters have told me they went with Meryl Streep. But A LOT have said the same thing about Winslet. One guy I know voted for Melissa Leo, but apparently many voters outside of the actors branch caught up with her small indie film, Frozen River, quite late in the game even though Sony Classics got it out to the academy first back in September.

“That fresh front-of-mind factor could work in Leo’s favor. If it were just actors voting I would make Leo the front-runner. They love her and they’ve all worked with her, but it’s the entire academy voting so the main contest is Streep vs. Winslet. And don’t forget there’s a lot of academy love for Winslet’s film, The Reader. It would indeed be a stunner for me if she lost here.

“But a REALLY close vote between those two could make Leo a real, not imagined, factor.”