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    How to Tell Real Oscar Contenders From Pretenders

    Natalie Portman Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP Images
    Oscar Watch

    All Oscar nominations are not created equal.

    Some stars are gonna win awards next month, and some stars won this past week just by picking up nods.

    Who are the contenders—and who are the pretenders? Here's the consensus from the oddsmakers:

    MORE: Our complete Oscar coverage!

    The Contenders

    • Colin Firth: You know what an upset is? If this man doesn't claim the Best Actor statuette on Feb. 27. 

    • Natalie Portman and Annette Bening: We sensed Bening had the edge for Best Actress 'cause she's due, so we were kinda surprised to see oddsmakers giving the edge to Portman. In any case, it's close. (Unless, of course, it's not—oddsmakers, after all, don't vote.)

    Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush: Best Supporting Actor is another you-pick-'em category, provided you limit your picks to these two gentlemen. Bale beat Rush at the Globes, but Rush could return the favor at this weekend's Screen Actors Guild Awards—and the Oscars. Suffice to say, we've got a bad feeling about The King's Speech. And, really, we're not complaining. We loved the movie the first time we saw it, too, when it was called My Fair Lady.

    • Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld and Helena Bonham Carter: If you're in the Best Supporting Actress race, you're in the race. By far, this looks to be the most competitive acting category. Even the longest of longshots—Animal Kingdom's Jacki Weaver—is being given a shot. The smart money, however, should go on one of the big three.

    The Pretenders

    • Everybody nominated for Best Actor who's not named Colin Firth: Sincere congrats on your nominations, sirs, enjoy the next month—and be sure to keep the aisle clear for The King's Speech royal on Oscar night. 

    • Michelle Williams: If ever there was a case of someone winning by being nominated...

    • John Hawkes:...It would be this case.

    Special-Achievement Trophy

    • Julia Roberts: You got Javier Bardem his Best Actor nod. Bravo!

    GET THE LIST: See who's up and who's down in our Red Carpet Power Index!

    VIDEO: Before Natalie Portman was a Best Actress contender, she was…

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