Meryl Streep, Iron Lady, Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn, Viola Davis, The Help, Rooney Mara, Girl with The Dragon Tattoo

'Tis the season...for Oscar predictions!

And since our fave race of the Academy Awards is (duh!) the Best Actress slot, we decided to narrow down which par-tick babes we think will make the tough cut. Now that we've analyzed the SAG and Golden Globe noms for further clues, we realize our first hunches were right on target: We've settled on a list that's inspired by such iconic chicks as Marilyn Monroe and Margaret Thatcher.

Talk about beauty and the beast, eh?

Let's start with the obvious.

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady:

While the legendary actress has 16 Academy Award nominations and two wins to her credit, Meryl hasn't taken home the Oscar since 1982. That is simply a crime, people, a crime! Gal's most definitely due in for some more modern recognition, but, we're not entirely sure Streep's precise portrayal of bullish British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is more Oscar-worthy than her previous noms.

Streep's simply perfect star-deliveries in Devil Wears Prada and Julia & Julia, et. al, just keep on getting ignored by the Academy, albeit she always manages a nom. Will Meryl be Susan Lucci-ed out yet again in 2012? Come on, even Hilary Swank and Dianne Weist have two Oscars. Shouldn't our most talented living actor today have at least one more little statuette? Don't worry, she will—soon.

Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn:

Williams has at least two strong factors going for her: one, while Marilyn isn't exactly getting rave reviews, Michelle's eerily sexy-lonely turn as Marilyn Monroe (while she made the film The Prince and the Showgirl in England with Laurence Olivier) certainly is—across the board. Plus, more on the sentimental side, Michelle has been Oscar-nominated twice before (Brokeback Mountain and Blue Valentine), and for a pretty young, former Dawson's Creek gal, Michelle's damn respected by the Academy. Lastly, do not forget Williams represents the possible continuation of Heath Ledger's tragically halted career talents, as she is the mother of their daughter, Matilda. Those are two pedigrees Oscar never sniffs at, in fact, just the opposite.

Viola Davis, The Help:

Let's be very clear and on the record, we lived for many of the performances in The Help, particularly those of Davis and Jessica Chastain (who could easily get nominated in the Supporting Actress category for one of her many stand-out acting jobs this year). And even though Davis's gut-wrenching, bravura performance as a put-upon 1950s maid in the racist deep south is utterly beyond compare, it just sort of sucks that it took a white woman (Emma Stone) to inspire Viola's character to do something about it. Come again?

Yeah, it would be akin to writing Rosa Parks's story, but, making her trailblazing inspiration some do-gooder, white housewife in pearls. Laughably insulting, but, Davis's uniformed trajectory is so stunningly moving, you kind of forget about all that nonsense, which is often what winning an Oscar is all about.

Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo:

OK, quit gasping and just realize you've gotten to the total wild-card portion of the tabulation. Glenn Close playing a sad woman playing an even sadder man in Albert Nobbs is just as likely as Rooney to nab an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, we say.

Both women deliver knock-out emotionally brittle performances that make you shudder and shake—in very different ways. One's all about tatts and blood and revenge, the other's all about bleeding to death from a heartless existence on the inside. A-plus to both superiorly talented actors, we're just saying Rooney has a slight edge, despite Close's myriad prior Oscar nominations.

Only because the Academy (sometimes) seems obsessed with going for a younger demographic. So, since Billy Crystal got the hosting gig, poor Glenn stands a tiny less chance—though, remember, Close, not Mara, got the SAG nomination, always a good indicator.

But, on the third hand, go and watch Tilda Swinton (also a SAG nominee) go and swoop it from both women for We Need to Talk About Kevin, which we really should but, we'd rather say Tilda totally got robbed not even getting nominated for last year's absurdly heart-breaking I Am Love. Never under estimate the power of make-up Oscar noms and wins!

Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene

OK, so Elizabeth (yes, younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) is the real long shot—especially since she hasn't earned any recognition from the SAG or Golden Globe voters—but we're still saying that the newbie actress could manage an ascendancy from nowhere and steal a nomination for her first big screen role.

She wasn't completely overlooked this award season (she managed to score a Spirit Award nomination against William's Marilyn) and there was tons of award season buzz about her performance as an emotionally wounded young woman escaping a violent cult when the film first hit (select) theaters. To be frank, she's damn good in the role and deserves the credit.

The only question is whether the lack of campaigning will cause her to be seriously overlooked. Or, ya know, if the Academy isn't willing to honor two younger gals (along with Rooney) in their first leading roles. Sure, they always love to gush over a fresh face (think Gabourey Sidibe in Precious), but two of those rosy pusses may be a tad too much young blood for the Academy's elite tastes.

Let's hope we're wrong.

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