In the speculative spitball realm Cate Blanchett is running against herself in the Best Actress category. The Weinstein Co. is pushing her touching Carol performance for Best Actress consideration, and in their usual favored-nations way Sony Pictures Classics is advocating her nomination in the same category for her gutsy, steely turn in James Vanderbilt‘s Truth. Blanchett may be nominated for one of these but winning the Oscar again after her 2013 Blue Jasmine victory is unlikely. The only way to win a second time is to top the previous performance, and if you ask me her Truth performance definitely outshines her work in Carol, and even, I feel, the acting she delivered under the direction of Woody Allen. Her work in Truth is blistering, ballsier; the role is more realistically tragic. I made a similar statement 15 years ago when Steven Soderbergh‘s direction of Traffic and Erin Brockovich were deemed equally award-worthy. I posted a “letter to the Academy” piece on that insisted his work on Traffic was far superior, and that’s what he finally wound up taking the Best Directing Oscar for. It would be gracious if the Weinsteiners were to decide to focus on Rooney Mara‘s expected Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance as Blanchett’s lover and let the Blanchett thing go. They won’t do that, of course. Award-season strategizing is not a game of croquet; it’s more like rugby. But the proof is in the pudding and Blanchett’s Mary Mapes, trust me, is quite the thing.