By Marla Seidell

And the nominees for Best Actress in a Leading Role are: Sandra Bullock, for The Blind Side; Helen Mirren, for The Last Station; Carey Mulligan, for An Education; Gabourey Sidibe, for Precious; and Meryl Streep, for Julie and Julia.

Out of these five fine actresses, it’s pretty obvious who will win, isn’t it? Sandy Bullock of course, due to her powerful role as Leigh Ann Tuohy in The Blind Side. This is Bullock’s first Oscar nomination, and she has also won a Golden Globe for the first time for the same role. This looks so clearly like a case in which the Globes predict the Oscar.

Bullock’s major contender for the Oscar is, of course, the iconic Meryl Streep, who counts two Oscars and 15 Academy Award nominations under her belt. Why Streep won’t win is due to the fact that Julie and Julia was not strong enough of a film, and was only saved by Streep’s impeccable portrayal of Julia Child. The Blind Side, on the other hand, is the only film marketed to date in which a leading actress has had her name above the title has passed the $200 million mark in domestic gross. Bullock’s role as white mother who takes in a poor black teen and helps propel him to success contains just the right cuts of juicy dramatic meat that the Academy loves to sink their teeth into.

This is Bullock’s banner year. She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama for her role in The Blind Side and was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for her role in The Proposal. Although nominated her for two Golden Globes in the past: for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical for Miss Congeniality in 2001 and Best Performance – Comedy/Musical for While You Were Sleeping in 1996, Bullock missed out both times. Now America’s Sweetheart is having a comeback, after a lull in quality roles since Crash (2004), and as Roger Ebert says, “Oscar loves a comeback.”

In parallel fashion, esteemed actress Streep experienced a comeback with her leading role as the married lover of Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County in 1995 (a role for which she received an Oscar nomination), following a dearth of good roles in the early ’90s. For Streep to scoop up the Best Actress award this year would be out of place. Bullock has stated sarcastically, “The Acadamy Awards shouldn’t even nominate Meryl Streep anymore. She should just be given an award every year. There should just be the Meryl Streep category.” Perhaps true, Sandy, but the Best Actress Award always goes to the actress with the most powerful performance in a film of high merit, such as Streep’s two Oscar wins, for Sophie’s Choice as Best Actress and for Kramer vs. Kramer as Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

The outcome is in the cards: the Oscar for Best Actress goes to Sandra Bullock. This is the year Bullock catapults back up to her position as heavyweight Hollywood actress garnering quality roles. Seeing as Bullocks is currently 46, I wouldn’t be surprised if this milestone of winning the Oscar parallels Streep’s continual path of good work that started with Bridges and continues to this day, even though the actress is in her 60s. Not many Hollywood female stars continue to twinkle after 40, and Streep and Bullock are among the rare exceptions, in the company of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.

Road to the Oscars series:

Podcasts – Kit Bowen, Nate Freiberg, Adam Spunberg, and Phil Wallace

February 4: Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

February 5: Animated Short – Kit Bowen

February 8: Documentary Short Subject – Christa Youngpeter

February 9: Documentary Feature – Nate Freiberg

February 10: Foreign Language Film – Paul Popiel

February 12: Animated Film – Nate Freiberg

February 15: Sound Mixing – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Sound Editing – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Original Song – Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

February 18: Visual Effects – Mallory Pickard

February 19: Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 22: Makeup – Christa Youngpeter

February 23: Costume – Steve Neumann

February 24: Art Direction – Christa Youngpeter

February 25: Film Editing – Steve Neumann

February 26: Cinematography – Paul Popiel

February 27: Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 28: Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

March 1: Supporting Actress – Marla Seidell

March 2: Supporting Actor – Phil Wallace

March 3: Actress – Marla Seidell

March 4: Actor – Kit Bowen

March 5: Director – Adam Spunberg

March 5: Picture – Kit Bowen

March 7: The 82nd Annual Academy Awards!