“It’s funny, but when you’re in the business, you can tell something in the first minutes of watching, particularly in terms of the actors. And at the start of Frozen River, the first thing I saw I went, ‘Oh! oh!’ I don’t even know the director (Courtney Hunt), but there was such a documentary feel to that performance by Melissa Leo. I don’t know Melissa Leo, but that’s an extraordinary piece of work. There’s not a false moment. I felt she knew it and lived that life.” — Dustin Hoffman, quoted in an an 11.26 Variety posting.

Add this endorsement to Roger Ebert‘s “Deep Vote” endorsement (“Best performance of the year, hands down…the public isn’t sure who Leo is, but she’s been working since 1984 and has 76 film and TV credits…every actor in the business has worked with her, except for Kevin Bacon…if they work together, the Game grows exponentially…actors nominate actors”), and you’re left with a growing feeling that Leo’s stock is rising.

To put it another way, it would be very gratifying to me personally if she didn’t get the blow-off that the Gurus o’ Gold, those Zelig-minded, sometimes-behind-the-curve tea-leaf readers, seem to think may be in the cards, as evidenced by their placing Leo second (under Michelle Williams) on their Dark Horse contender chart.