EW Staff
February 18, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Who’ll win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2005?

Winning an Oscar for Supporting Actress is all about the role. It must be substantial enough to make a strong impression. Talented as they are, Sophie Okonedo and Laura Linney are both saddled with smallish ”wife of” parts in Hotel Rwanda and Kinsey. Golden Globe winner Natalie Portman plays against type as a stripper in Closer, and voters like to reward young ingenues who stretch a little (think Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted or Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite). But she didn’t even get a SAG nomination. Virginia Madsen downs her juicy monologue about wine and life in Sideways with understated gusto, but portraying a siren of a certain age may not seem like such a hard sell. So in a very, very tight contest, voters may rally around a showbiz-oriented role (think Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago). And in The Aviator, Aussie chameleon and critical fave Cate Blanchett daringly embodies another great Kate very familiar to the Academy, four-time winner Katharine Hepburn.

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