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Oscars 2011 Profiles: Best Supporting Actress Nominees

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So far during awards season, The Fighter's Melissa Leo has had it all her own way - but will she make the full set at the Oscars? Her cast mate, Amy Adams, might have something to say about that, and one should never discount the enormous hair or astonishing dress sense of Helena Bonham Carter. And in the less-well-known-but-at-least-as-good corner, we have Jackie Weaver's towering performance in Animal Kingdom and teenage titan Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit. Who'll take home the prize? We assess the probabilities...

Why She Will Win
She's been nominated in this category twice before, for her sunny turn in Junebug and her more worried performance in Doubt. Will it be third time lucky?Adams turns what could have been a tart-with-a-heart into a fully realised and complicated woman here - and deserves plaudits for that.

She's famous enough, young enough and pretty enough to fit the traditional mould for a Best Actress or Supporting Actress winner.

Why She Won't Win
The fact that co-star Melissa Leo is also nominated may mean that The Fighter votes get split between the two. It was Leo who won the Screen Actors Guild award, so Adams' biggest competition is perhaps her own co-star.Adams gets to spend the film looking attractive and doesn't have to labour under a bad haircut or silly hat, like her fellow nominees. That has got to be a handicap

Latent gingerism. It's appalling, but it's the last socially-acceptable prejudice.

Why She Will Win
She plays the Queen Mother - surely this means that every single British Oscar voter will be behind her as a matter of principle.She's Helena Bonham Carter, a figure only slightly less beloved than the Queen Mum in the first place.

Don't you just hunger to see what her hair would do if she won? It'd probably grow to 100 times its normal size and swallow LA.

Why She Won't Win
Maybe Oscar is saving it up to award her next year for her final turn as Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II. So we like to think.Would they ever really give an Oscar to someone who wears two different shoes to the Golden Globes?

While Firth has been universally lauded for his performance, Bonham-Carter has been universally nominated but unrewarded. This may be a trend.

Why She Will Win
She's won everything going so far; why break the habit of an awards season?She was nominated for Best Actress two years ago for Frozen River, and missed out despite being fantastic. Hollywood seems to want to pay her her dues this time.

She's been looking smokin' hot on the red carpet this awards season, all the better to draw attention to how much she dowdied-up for the role. Going ugly for the film always helps your chances.

Why She Won't Win
Oscar voters don't always concur with SAG, and the Golden Globes are no guide at all.She's not nearly as high profile as Adams or Bonham Carter - and the Actress categories tend to see the Oscar go to the most high-profile nominees.

Oscar's given a lot of love recently to trashy roles like Leo's pushy boxing mother here; it might be time for a change.

Why She Will Win
Steinfeld's role as Mattie Ross in True Grit is a lead in all but name: she carries the film and, never mind holding her own, actually steals scenes from Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges.It's the best debut of the year - and the Academy does sometimes reward debutantes who have turned in a sufficiently strong turn.

It's the most memorable and unique performance on the list by a country mile, and all the more impressive given Steinfeld's age and relative inexperience.

Why She Won't Win
It's sort of cheating to nominate your leading lady in the Best Supporting category just because you think she has a better chance there.She didn't even get nominated for the Screen Actors Guild, which tends to be a reasonably reliable Oscar form guide.

While teenagers often get nominated at the Oscars, they very very rarely win, with only three Best Supporting Actress winners ever under the age of 20.

Why She Will Win
This year's dark horse nominee, Jacki Weaver is utterly mesmerising in this Aussie crime-drama, as the sometimes sweet, sometimes utterly ruthless matriarch of a criminal family. Think Lady Macbeth with knobs on.With the possible exception of Mattie Ross, this is by far the best role on the list: fiercely loyal to her family but also simply fierce, with a twisted undercurrent.

She's only on screen for maybe 20 minutes, but she makes a huge impression when she is. We could see another Judi Dench In Shakespeare In Love sort of a win.

Why She Won't Win
This is the annual Nomination For A Film None Of The Voters Actually Saw; Weaver may have to content herself with just being in the right company, and wait - like Melissa Leo, perhaps - for a higher profile role next time.She's Australian, causing potential confusion for voters who can't quite place / understand the accent.

Her character in Animal Kingdom is called "Smurf". Can a Smurf really win an Oscar? (Cue Avatar jokes in 4,3,2…)