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Upsets in the acting races? Get real!

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You can blame it on Adrien Brody. Ever since the star of The Pianist shocked the Kodak Theatre by winning the Best Actor Oscar over presumed front-runners Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis in 2003, some people now forecast upsets in the acting races every year. I’ve already begun to hear it: Maggie Gyllenhaal could just topple Mo’Nique for Best Supporting Actress. Woody Harrelson is poised to upset Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor. Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep will split the Best Actress vote, allowing for Gabourey Sidibe to steal it. I’m even quasi-guilty of perpetuating this myth: When one of my Twitter followers asked me if Jeremy Renner “could pull an Adrien Brody,” I responded, “It’s a long shot, but he’s the only one who can upset Jeff Bridges.” I still think Renner is No. 2 in the Best Actor derby, but face it: It’s not happening. And neither is Maggie Gyllenhaal. Or Woody Harrelson. Or Gabourey Sidibe. We all need to be content with the reality that the only real races in the major categories this year are for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Otherwise we’re all setting ourselves up for a night of disappointment on March 7.