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CONTENDERS: Julia Roberts And June Squibb
Let's get real: Previous winner Julia Roberts was practically guaranteed an Oscar nod for August: Osage County from the moment she was cast. Playing opposite Meryl Streep (a contender in the Lead category), she was offered a meaty role with Barbara Weston, favorite and furious daughter of a cruel pill-popping matriarch. And Roberts dug in, convincingly hurling f-bombs and plates of fried fish while matching Streep for energy and gravitas. However, there's two things that hurt her chances on Oscar night. One is that August: Osage County is a pretty lame movie outside of its central performances, and two, Roberts' relegation to the Supporting category reeks of award season politics. She and Streep were both leads, but wisely the Weinsteins broke them up to cover more ground. It has gotten the movie more nominations, but it won't equal a win for Roberts.

As a mouthy matriarch in her own right, June Squibb has had critics raving over her turn in Alexander Payne's bittersweet comedy Nebraska. She's been nominated left and right for Critics guild honors, and even snagged a Golden Globe nod. However, it's noteworthy that out of 20 nominations, she's only taken home two awards so far. Undoubtedly, her no-nonsense performance has won her tons of fans in the press, but it won't be enough to take home the gold on Oscar night.

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