JENNIFER CONNELLY FOR HER After two decades and 23 films, she’s finally arrived with a star-making turn as steadfast wife Alicia Nash in A Beautiful Mind; her strong, accessible performance, along with her graciousness off screen, have led her to win a Golden Globe and AFI award. AGAINST HER As the category’s only first-time nominee, might she still be too new to the party? EVEN MONEY
HELEN MIRREN FOR HER As melancholy Gosford Park housekeeper Mrs. Wilson, she’s the ensemble’s most memorable ”downstairs” character and the emotional heart of the film; at age 56, the well-respected Brit has earned her second Oscar nomination. AGAINST HER Voters may perceive her performance as too quiet; costar Maggie Smith will siphon away precious votes. 3-1 ODDS
MAGGIE SMITH FOR HER As acid-tongued Gosford Park aristocrat Lady Constance, she’s the ensemble’s most memorable ”upstairs” character and the emotional heartlessness of the film; at age 67, the well-respected Brit has earned her sixth Oscar nomination. AGAINST HER Voters may perceive her performance as too one-note; costar Helen Mirren will siphon away precious votes. 5-1 ODDS
MARISA TOMEI FOR HER Her subtle, affecting work as In the Bedroom’s troubled girlfriend exhibited a depth heretofore unseen in her hide-and-seek career; an upset winner in this category nine years ago for My Cousin Vinny, she’s an Academy favorite. AGAINST HER The film really belongs to lead actors Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson; the role might be too passive to merit a win. 10-1 ODDS
KATE WINSLET FOR HER Playing the young free spirit Iris Murdoch in Iris has earned the actress her third nomination — and she’s only 26; with its frank sexuality, this is arguably the gutsiest turn of the bunch. AGAINST HER Is it truly possible to shine when you’re playing the same character as Judi Dench? The scenes featuring an older Iris pack the bigger emotional punch. 6-1 ODDS
THE LOWDOWN With no BAFTA brawl on her rap sheet, the revelatory Connelly seems unbeatable.