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FRONTRUNNERS: Jennifer Lawrence And Lupita Nyong'o
I know you were hoping for a clear edge in your office Oscar pool, but honestly this race is too close to call!

Even the film's detractors confess that Jennifer Lawrence is the best part of David O. Russell's American Hustle, in which she played a venomous housewife. The film itself seems a favorite for Oscar night, boasting ten nominations, and many of them in major categories, including every acting race, Best Directing, Best Original Screenplay, and of course Best Picture of the Year. It won a trio of honors at the Golden Globes, including a statuette for Lawrence. Plus, the queen of off-the-cuff remarks and wacky red carpet moments is beloved by the Academy. At 23, she's already a three-time nominee, having earned her first for Winter's Bone and her second for Silver Linings Playbook, for which she won and with flare. She'd be a lock for a repeat win this year if it weren't for the rise of an exhilarating new talent.

Astonishingly, Lupita Nyong'o made her film debut with Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, which has 9 nominations at the Academy Awards. In it, she offered a performance so delicate and heartbreaking that it had some claiming her a frontrunner back in October, when the film hit the New York Film Festival. Of course that was before critics had seen American Hustle. Frankly, it's difficult to pick between these two performances that are both electric and mesmerizing. We just don't know how the Academy will make the call. Will they pick the ingénue they already love, or will they see this new talent, who dazzles on the red carpet and on the screen, and throw their accolades at her feet? Nyong'o lost to Lawrence at the Golden Globes, but she beat her at the SAG awards. Who will come out on top at the Oscars? Between these two, your guess is as good as ours.

Check out our breakdowns on the other categories here.

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