GLORIA STUART (1), whose memories as 101-year-old Rose trigger Titanic’s sumptuous flashbacks, has one claim none of the other nominees can challenge: The 87-year-old actress’ Hollywood career began in 1932, making her the most veteran competitor in any Oscar heat this year. In a category that always honors at least one long-term survivor, her place in the lifeboat is reserved.

If you trust the Golden Globes, her boat mates should include JOAN CUSACK (2), whose comic anguish as the jilted bride in In & Out won her the supporting-actress prize from the New York Film Critics Circle; SIGOURNEY WEAVER (3), who demonstrated her versatility with her brief but stinging performance as a ’70s seductress in The Ice Storm; and KIM BASINGER (4) as the Veronica Lake-look-alike hooker in L.A. Confidential (it’s the movie’s only significant female role, so unlike Confidential’s men, she doesn’t have to worry about splitting her vote with anyone).

JULIANNE MOORE received a Golden Globe nod and a pair of critics’ awards for her turn as a porn actress in Boogie Nights, but she’s no slam dunk: Her performance could be too daring for older voters. MINNIE DRIVER’s (5) romantic Cliffie could ride a Good Will Hunting groundswell to a nomination. ANNE HECHE gave attention-getting performances in Wag the Dog and Donnie Brasco. JUDY DAVIS, nominated in ’93 for Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives, could reprise for her furious entrance in Allen’s Deconstructing Harry; costar KIRSTIE ALLEY, who gets to tell Woody off in the film’s most satisfying scene, could sneak in too. And if the Academy is seeking an ingenue, there’s CHRISTINA RICCI’s spookily mature teen in The Ice Storm. Should voters want to counter Gloria Stuart’s seniority, Ricci is 70 years younger. — GK



If you’ve seen her on ABC’s All My Children or Port Charles, you know Debbi Morgan is a dramatic powerhouse. And as the auntie to the title character in Eve’s Bayou, a kind of lay priestess of white magic, Morgan blazes in her small, hot role. If nominated, she’ll join the ranks of grads from that other academy, the finishing school of so many big-screen stars: TV daytime drama.