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Who will take the gold? Fox411's Dr. Oscar's offers Best Actress predictions

The Academy Awards are often described as Hollywood’s Super Bowl. This year, that may actually be an understatement. 

But rest assured. If you’re looking for some guidance as you prepare for your office Oscar pool, you’ve come to the right place. For the past four years, Fox 411 has provided some of the most accurate predictions on the web. This year, we plan to do it again.

Today, we take a look at the Best Actress category. Let's take a look at the odds.

BEST ACTRESS

THE NOMINEES: Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs,” Viola Davis in “The Help,” Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” and Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

PREDICTION: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”

It might as well be called “The Oscar Lady.” As former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Streep earned her record 17th nomination and gave what may be the finest performance of her career. In fact, this may be the greatest accomplishment by an actress in the history of cinema. It has so many of the classic Oscar trappings. She plays a real person. She uses an accent and is physically transformed. She ages onscreen and overcomes adversity. It’s a very dramatic performance, and I’ve always argued that Academy voters go for the showy rather than the subtle. 

While Streep has won twice, it’s been almost thirty years since her last win for “Sophie’s Choice,” and she’s suffered through 14 losses. Both momentum and sentiment would appear to be on her side this year, as voters will finally be ready to give her that elusive third Oscar. 

So it appears to be a done deal, right? Believe it or not, most movie pundits are predicting a win by Viola Davis in “The Help.” I can’t help but feel that they are wrong. Davis is a brilliant actress and was the heart of the film, providing a very skillful yet restrained performance. But it was essentially a supporting role, lacking the type of broad character arc illustrated by Streep in “The Iron Lady.” 

“The Help” does have the benefit of being a Best Picture nominee, though that may be offset by its failure to earn any nominations in the writing, directing or technical categories. (Remember that the entire Academy membership votes on the final ballot.) I suspect that my are predicting Davis because she won the Screen Actors Guild reward, but that’s because “The Help” had been seen by many more of those voters than “The Iron Lady.” Academy members will have seen both films and be able to judge accordingly. 

Four years ago I boldly predicted a win by Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” over the favored Julie Christie in “Away from Her.” Let’s hope that I’m right again this year.

Check back this week for more of Dr. Oscar's predictions. Tune into Fox411.com Sunday at 7 p.m. to watch our live coverage of the Oscars red carpet.

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