The fourth Oscar Poker podcast, which Sasha Stone and I finished recording about two and a half hours ago, focused on the strongest acting nominees. It should be posted to iTunes sometime this evening.

The only thing we disagreed on was a bizarre idea initially floated (or so Sasha recalled) by Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson about Natalie Portman‘s brilliant Black Swan performance. Thompson has intimated that Portman’s performance might be a problem with some women because her ballet-dancer character doesn’t convey enough in the way strong or courageous positivism. By this standard a Best Actress nominee has less chance of winning if she portrays a character beset by any form of weakness or anxiety or rampant insecurity, as Portman’s character certainly is.

In other words, women in the film industry are so insecure that they have issues with any less than admirable female character because this would send out “the wrong message.”

What else did we say? There’s no disputing that Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) is the Best Actor front-runner with Jesse Eisenberg, James Franco, Robert Duvall, Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges and Ryan Gosling also in play. And that the smart play for Another Year‘s Lesley Manville is to go for Best Supporting Actress and not Best Actress, which is looking like a big duke-out between Portman, Annette Bening, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicole Kidman and possibly Naomi Watts. And that Rosamund Pike is a serious comer in the Best Supporting Actress competition a la Barney’s Version.