Oscars: Could Natalie Portman still lose the Best Actress race at the Oscars to Annette Bening?

By Paul Sheehan

HollywoodNews.com: While Natalie Portman has awards history on her side, could the “Black Swan” star still lose the Best Actress race at the Oscars to Annette Bening?

Portman prevailed in the two major contests that pitted them against each other — the BFCA and SAG — while both of them won Golden Globes. However, neither woman has won an Academy Award.

The “Kids Are All Right” co-star certainly has raised her profile in the last weeks of the campaign, just as the expectant Portman takes a break. Last month, Bening was feted by the Santa Barbara filmfest and dropped by “The Tonight Show” to joke with Jay Leno about being married to the most promising newcomer of 1962, Warren Beatty. And on Wednesday, she is set to appear on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

On Monday, Bening was the belle of the nominees luncheon, sitting saucily on the lap of last year’s Best Actor champ Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart”), who contends this year for “True Grit.” She then took part in a Q&A that night in a venue directly across the street from the academy. As Steve Pond (The Wrap) reports, “Bening was typically composed and articulate; you don’t get emotional fireworks or tearful confessions from her, but thoughtful dissections of acting that referenced Stanislavsky’s ‘moments of tragic inaction’ and frequent glances to her husband in the front row.”

Bening has struck out three times at the Oscars. Her first nod was in the supporting race back in 1990 for “The Grifters” when she lost to Whoopi Goldberg (“Ghost”). Bening was defeated in both her Best Actress bids by Hilary Swank — first in 1999 for “American Beauty” when Swank won for “Boys Don’t Cry” and then in 2004 for “Julia” when Swank repeated with “Million Dollar Baby. Portman lost her only bid in the supporting actress category in 2004 for “Closer” to Cate Blanchett (“The Aviator”). ”

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