STAR TO WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence
The moment "Winter's Bone" -- itself nominated for Picture and Screenplay -- began gaining an audience, there was really little question as to whether or not Lawrence would find herself in the Best Actress race. Her turn as Ree, who has to navigate the dark corners of her lawless extended family to find her missing father, is an almost shockingly superb breakthrough, rough, tough and revelatory. Though the Kentucky-born actress has been cast in redneck-esque roles in the past ("The Burning Plain," TV's "The Bill Engvall Show"), her glamorous offscreen look and demeanor give no indication of the rustic, no-nonsense, unrefined fire Ree emits. Thanks also to the script (co-written by Anne Rossellini and director Debra Granik), but mainly to Lawrence's unflinching embodiment, she's one of the great recent film heroines.