Here’s my two cents about Roger Friedman‘s 8.21 piece assessing the leading Best Actress contenders of the moment. Right now it’s a two-actress race — Carey Mulligan in An Education vs. Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia (with possible fortification coming from her It’s Complicated performance.). Obviously there are four months to go and anything can happen, but right now the Oscar is Mulligan’s to lose because of (a) the old “Streep nominated again?” factor and (b) Mullligan’s performance is delightful/exciting while Streep’s is merely expert.

(l. to r,.) Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Abbie Conrish, Penelope Cruz

Mulligan might very well not win because Oscar tradition has generally been about ingenues being nominated but not winning because they have to pay their dues and all that jazz. It would actually be cooler for Mulligan to just have fun with the nomination dance and boost An Education in the bargain, etc.

Abbie Cornish might manage a Best Actress nomination in for her performance in Bright Star, although she’s looking like a bit of a weak sister at this stage. (The movie’s real star is Jane Campion.) Nobody knows anything about Rachel Weisz in The Lovely Bones so just shut up and wait. Forget Penelope Cruz in Broken Embraces (although I think she’s wonderful in this film) because the reaction to Pedro Almodovar‘s latest has been tepid since Cannes. Forget Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer…just forget it. (You can’t be nominated for playing a whimsical, self-absorbed ditzoid.) And forget Gwynneth Paltrow in Two Lovers….not happening!

Friedman, by the way, says that Mulligan is the breakout star among his list of nominees and then adds, “Remember, you heard it here first.” That’s funny. I seem to recall some other guy jumping up and down about her last January and predicting that An Education “will definitely be in contention at the end of the year” in some capacity.