By Dave Karger
Updated January 16, 2009 at 09:17 PM EST
Credit: Jemal Countess/WireImage

I’ve been thinking about this year’s Best Actress race over the last few days and something interesting occurred to me: Whereas there are three men (Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, and Frank Langella) who have landed on every major awards list so far, almost all the strongest female contenders have been overlooked by at least one important pre-Oscar group. Kate Winslet won the Golden Globe but was left off the Broadcast Critics nominees list (and they even included six competitors). Sally Hawkins picked up the other Globe and swept the big critics prizes (New York, Los Angeles, and National Society) but was snubbed by SAG, BAFTA, and the Broadcast Critics. Anne Hathaway won Best Actress honors from the National Board of Review and tied for the BFCA win but didn’t make it on the BAFTA list either (and yes, she was eligible). And Angelina Jolie made all the major shortlists (SAG, BFCA, BAFTA, and Globes) but hasn’t actually won a single influential prize. That leaves the one actress who’s been recognized by each and every big pre-Oscar group and has a substantial win under her belt: Meryl Streep, who claimed the other Best Actress prize from the BFCA. Even though she received some harsh A-list reviews when the film was released last month, she’s remained at the top of the contenders list in her category. In this year’s tightest major race, will consistency make the difference and propel Streep to her third Oscar win after all? Or will Winslet or Hathaway overcome a past snub to win favor with the Academy? When the nominations are announced next Thursday, we’ll see perhaps the most important factor: How many nominations voters throw to Revolutionary Road, Rachel Getting Married, and, of course, Doubt. I’m convinced that overall Academy support for the eventual winner’s film will be the deciding factor in which actress goes home with the trophy.

addCredit(“Jemal Countess/WireImage”)