When a respected veteran actress faces a talented newcomer in the Best Actress race, nine times out of ten the newcomer wins. So concluded And The Winner Is columnist Scott Feinberg in a piece that went up yesterday. This means that — historically and prematurely speaking, of course — An Education‘s Carey Mulligan is well positioned to snag more votes than Julie & Julia‘s Meryl Streep in this year’s Oscar race.

Scott asked a few columnists to chime in on the subject. Here’s what I sent him last night:

“Meryl Streep gives an expert performance as Julia Child in Julie & Julia. She always gives expert performances. She always gets everything right. But this time around she isn’t half as spirited or soulful as Carey Mulligan in An Education. Seriously, not by half. Streep is doing a bit. She’s the master of this kind of acting. But Mulligan is turning on the current, acting her butt off and pouring her heart out. She’s fresh and alive and expert as well. She’s got the moves and the chops.

“The industry worships Streep but I know more than a few people who are sorta kinda sick of her being so good all the time. Always the grand dame, always being nominated, etc. As she deserves to be — don’t get me wrong. But the bottom line reality is that her performance in Nora Ephron‘s decently made film is nowhere near as good as Mulligan’s in Lone Scherfig‘s superb one. That’s a fact.”