It’s funny how we bloggers often try to stuff contenders into categories to suit our own desires. Factoring in the performances in movies yet to be seen, at this point in the race it looks to me like the strongest contenders are these: 1. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine 2. Sandra Bullock, Gravity 3. Judi Dench, Philomena 4. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County 5. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks Right after these big names come Kate Winslet in Labor Day and Amy Adams, expected to be in for American Hustle (though, like Thompson, she has yet to been seen). Then there are powerhouse performances that have been seen — like Julie Delpy in Before Midnight, and Brie Larson for Short Term 12. Finally there’s Adele Exarchopoulos for Blue is the Warmest Color. Depending on where your allegiances lie, you’ll want to bump one of the big five actresses from the list. When word got out that a certain blogger was fully behind Exarchopoulos’ win (not just nomination) there was some chatter about whom might get bumped. Somehow, Sandra Bullock’s name got thrown in as one that could be expendable. My reaction to this was: no fucking way. And here’s why. Of all of the films coming out this year, those in the top five happened to be starring in films where women are the central figures. But Bullock and Bullock alone stands out as the one woman carrying the entire film in which she’s starring. It’s all on her shoulders, emotionally and in every other way. For a big budget genre film to go this way is unheard of. When Hollywood makes a major shift in this direction, with an actress who has already brought another film this year to $100 million, who is over 40 and succeeding, impossibly, at a time when most actresses are written off? For the Oscars to ignore that would be shocking to me. Not to mention that Bullock has George Clooney in her corner. Furthermore, Bullock will star in a major Best Picture contender. Have I taught you Oscarwatchers nothing? No, I doubt Bullock will get the ax. In fact, I am not sure any of the peripheral names can break through — it is going to depend on Emma Thompson, a wholly beloved and reliable actress, starring a film about the woman who created Mary Poppins. The movie is going to have to suck hard for Thompson not to hit it out of the park. Who wants to bump Meryl Streep? Of all of the names I can see, hers is the only one voters might think: eh, she’s been nominated enough. But I doubt it. Greatness is greatness. Meanwhile, enjoy these photos from Vogue of Bullock playing with the Gravity theme.