Of last year's five nominees, only Michelle Williams is a potential contender. She plays the never-nominated Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn." Five of the last 10 winners of this category prevailed for playing real-life women.
Two veterans of this race — Meryl Streep and Glenn Close — could face off for the first time since 1988. Streep plays the formidable British PM Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." And Close is a woman masquerading as man in 19th century Dublin in "Albert Nobbs."
Streep has reaped a record 13 nominations in this category but has only one win ("Sophie's Choice," 1982). She also won the second of her three Supporting Actress bids ("Kramer vs. Kramer," 1979). Close lost both her lead bids back in 1987 and 1988, as well as three supporting ones. She did win an Obie for playing this role off Broadway in 1981 and has spent the past three decades working to bring this story to the big screen.
A pair of past winners — two-time champ Jodie Foster ("The Accused," 1988; "Silence of the Lambs," 1991) and Kate Winslet ("The Reader," 2008) — are paired in "Carnage," Roman Polanksi's adaptation of the 2009 Tony-winning play by Yazmin Reza. They play mothers who clash after their children fight, with John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz as their respective mates.
Another past champ, Charlize Theron ("Monster, 2003) headlines Jason Reitman's new comedy-drama "Young Adult," as a divorced writer who returns to her small town hoping to reunite with a lost love. 2006 winner Helen Mirren ("The Queen") goes from dowager to dowdy to play a maid in "The Door." And 2007 victor Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") tackles an epidemic in "Contagion."
2005 supporting winner Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener") headlines a pair of pictures — as a police officer out to stop human trafficking in "The Whistleblower" and as an adulterous wife in the period drama "The Deep Blue Sea."
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