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Oscar Countdown: Best Supporting Actress

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Feb. 19 2008, Published 8:18 a.m. ET

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There has not been a more interesting race in recent years (especially since the Oscars were moved up to February) than this year's Best Supporting Actress catfight. Without a doubt this is the most unpredictable of all the acting categories, and thus, the most exciting. How unpredictable? Four of the five have split the last four awards — Amy Ryan won the Broadcast Film Critics Award, Cate Blanchett won the Golden Globe, Ruby Dee took the SAG and Tilda Swinton scored the BAFTA. If pattern holds, that means little Saoirse Ronan will win the Oscar. Read below for OK!'s thoughts.

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Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There

Pro: What is it about Kates that the Academy loves? First there's Katharine Hepburn and now Cate Blanchett (who won an Oscar playing the Great Kate). The Aussie doubled up this year with two nods, and she has her best chance in this category. Totally immersed into the role, Cate is an entrancing Bob Dylan and you'd never know it was a woman playing him.

Con: The film's too divisive and the double nomination could split votes.

Ruby Dee, American Gangster

Pro: Veteran alert again! Ruby won the SAG, which is voted on by actors — the largest of the Academy's voting block, so she has that on her side. As for her performance, the 83-year-old sends chills in her climactic scene as Mama Lucas.

Con: The performance clocks in at less than five minutes, which is not cool in a lot of people's books. If she wins, it'll be the shortest Oscar-winning performance ever.

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Saoirse Ronan, Atonement

Pro: She's a budding star-in-waiting, whose stunning performance was the talk of the town before the film even hit screens. Also, Oscar loves his little girls — see winners Tatum O'Neal, Anna Paquin and last year's nominee Abigail Breslin. Then there's also that aforementioned pattern.

Con: The film has lost its buzz and, unfortunately, so has she to a certain degree. Also, she has yet to best her competition thus far in the award season, and she's missing from half the film.

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Cate Blanchett
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Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

Pro: A theater vet, Amy showed everyone what she's made of with a fearless, uninhibited turn as the mom of a kidnahpped girl. Also topnotch — her Bostonian accent. Did she go to the Meryl Streep School of Accents?

Con: Amy took a lead early on in the game, but it seems like her momentum's peaked. Also not boding well for her is being in a smaller film and being the flick's only nomination.

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Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Pro: As a corrupt U.N. chief counsel, Tilda received some of the best reviews of her career for playing a complex, bad character, who is, as she says, "trying terribly hard to be good." With her mix of unnerving ambition and vulnerability, Tilda is Clayton's best chance to walk away with a win. Also, the tides have turned in her favor — she picked up the BAFTA, the most recent award.

Con: She's a respected thesp, but just how much support does she have from the Academy? Also, will Clayton fans opt to honor the film elsewhere?

Prediction

Winner: Tilda Swinton

Next in line: Amy Ryan

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