Oscar Watch: Best Actress contenders -- Jodie Foster, Bette Midler, and Susan Sarandon may get nods

Now much will heralded performances and costly ad campaigns mean when Oscar nominations roll around on Feb. 19? Probably not much. What counts more are the intangibles — the hidden factors that, for example, will enhance the chances of the leading Best Actress contenders:

Jodie Foster
Magazine profiles, including Time and Premiere covers.
Eight TV talk-show appearances, but not the Today show, which she walked off when Bryant Gumbel wouldn’t muzzle John Hinckley questions.
Golden Globe, New York Film Critics Circle, and Women in Film awards. — Considered a Renaissance woman after directing Little Man Tate.
Enormous grosses for Silence of the Lambs.

Annette Bening
Magazine profiles, including Cosmopolitan and Premiere.
Talk-show appearances.
Glowing references in all of Warren Beatty’s interviews.
Sympathy vote for having to give up Catwoman role in Batman Returns because of pregnancy.

Bette Midler
Six big magazine profiles, including Vanity Fair‘s cover.
Promotional blitz hawking For the Boys, including appearances with Johnny Carson, Arsenio Hall, Oprah Winfrey, and Barbara Walters.
Golden Globe winner.
Sympathy vote because of Geraldo boast and because her dream project is a bomb.

Susan Sarandon
Magazine profiles, including Time‘s cover with Thelma & Louise costar Geena Davis.
Shared National Board of Review award with costar Davis.
Leading liberal in industry gets support from simpatico Academy members.
Now available on video, her movie taps spirit of female outrage over Clarence Thomas and Willie Smith.
Guilt factor: She wasn’t even nominated for Bull Durham.