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Will Meryl Streep give Viola Davis a run for her money for the Oscar?

November 18, 2011 |  7:00 am

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in 'Iron Lady'

We’re still waiting for one of our leading contenders to show herself, though we’ll probably be done with the Thanksgiving leftovers before we see that particular “Girl” and her tattoo. In the meantime, let’s sort through the deep list of candidates for the lead actress Oscar.

1. Viola Davis, “The Help”
2. Michelle Williams, “My Week With Marilyn”
3. Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
4. Glenn Close, “Albert Nobbs”
5. Rooney Mara, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
6. Charlize Theron, “Young Adult”
7. Tilda Swinton, “We Need To Talk About Kevin”
8. Elizabeth Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”
9. Kirsten Dunst, “Melancholia”
10. Ellen Barkin, “Another Happy Day”

Bubbling under: Keira Knightley, “A Dangerous Method”; Felicity Jones, “Like Crazy”; Emma Stone, “The Help”; Michelle Yeoh, “The Lady.”

For your consideration: Charlize Theron, “Young Adult.” Theron gained 30 pounds and won an Oscar for playing a serial killer in “Monster.” Sans makeup, she’s even better in this black comedy, playing a woman who’s frightening for altogether different reasons. But can you win the Academy’s love without a third-act redemption?

Analysis: Streep’s “Iron Lady” has finally come out of hiding, and what has always felt like a foregone conclusion is true: Nomination No. 17 would seem to be in the bag. (If Streep could escape “Mamma Mia!“ -- also directed by Phyllida Lloyd -- unscathed and radiant, then how hard could it be to make Thatcher come alive?) The film has the same Academy-friendly biopic sweep as “J. Edgar,” only with better makeup. How can she lose?

Barkin and “Another Happy Day” writer-director Sam Levinson played their film to enthusiastic audiences at guild screenings in Los Angeles last week. Critics have generally trashed Levinson’s fractured-family tale for being a bit too ... well, let’s just say “dramatic.” But it’s playing well for audiences (one SAG member likened it to “City Island,” another crowd-pleaser that left critics cold) and has an ace ambassador in the plainspoken Barkin, whose stream-of-consciousness Twitter feed showcases a way with the F-word that would make Samuel L. Jackson proud.

Barkin probably can’t move past Close for the category’s career-crowning-achievement slot. But we’re glad she’s in the race because she makes it a lot more *$#@ing fun.


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-- Glenn Whipp

Photo: Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in "Iron Lady." Credit: Alex Bailey / Weinstein Co.

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