Meryl Streep has racked up multiple nominations in this category over the years, but she has not won it since 1982 for "Sophie's Choice." Now she contends for "The Iron Lady" and it seems she could take the honor for the first time in nearly three decades. Her biggest challenger is Viola Davis whose film "The Help" is also up for Best Picture.
Previous nominees in this category Glenn Close ("Albert Nobbs") and Tilda Swinton ("We Need to Talk About Kevin") could be sentimental favorites. Newcomer Rooney Mara ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") is an outside shot.