Oscars 2010: Sandra Bullock, Jeff Bridges, Mo'Nique, Christoph Waltz Going for Gold

Sandra Bullock, Jeff Bridges, Mo'Nique and Christoph Waltz will soon find out.

Feb. 2, 2010— -- Sandra Bullock, Jeff Bridges, Mo'Nique and Christoph Waltz each have picked up three major acting awards since the start of the year, making the march toward Oscar gold seem like a sure thing.

Not so fast.

Just because Bullock, Bridges, Mo'Nique and Waltz have won the Golden Globe, Critics' Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards does not mean they have a lock on the coveted Academy Award.

All four scored Oscar nominations this morning: Bullock for best actress, Bridges for best actor, Mo'Nique for best supporting actress and Waltz for best supporting actor.

CLICK HERE for the full list of Oscar nominees.

Previous actors who had the same momentum going into the Academy Awards -- Julie Christie, Renee Zellweger and Russell Crowe won SAG and Globe awards -- lost out on the Oscar in the end.

But if they do win, they'll join an exclusive group of actors who have achieved the trifecta of acting awards for a single role. They include Tom Hanks for "Forrest Gump," Hilary Swank for "Million Dollar Baby," Heath Ledger for "The Dark Knight" and Kate Winslet for "The Reader."

An even smaller group, including Daniel Day Lewis for "There Will Be Blood," Helen Mirren for "The Queen," Jamie Foxx for "Ray" and Julia Roberts for "Erin Brockovich" won all three plus the Critics' Choice Award.

So what's it all mean?

Greg Kilday, the film editor for the Hollywood Reporter, said the awards leading up to Oscar "don't necessarily affect who wins," but they "show you were the sentiment is trending."

"I think it can give momentum, if not reflect momentum that's already there," Kilday told ABCNews.com.

Much like during the political campaign season, the three-month award season that culminates with the Academy Awards allows for consensus building. And, with some overlap in membership between the Screen Actors Guild and the acting branch of the Academy, "at the end of the day, it would be surprising if the Academy's winners didn't overlap."

Is one award a better predictor than the other of who will win the Oscar?

A quick look at Oscar winners over the past two decades yielded mixed results. Several actors, including Forest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage and Gwyneth Paltow, took home a Golden Globe and SAG Award on their way to an Oscar win. But just as many, including Holly Hunter, Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Bates and Cuba Gooding Jr., received one but not the other. And some -- Jeremy Irons, Adrien Brody and Kevin Spacey -- received neither one.

Oscar Frontrunners and Favorites

Mo'Nique and Waltz have been frontrunners all awards season. Bridges, on the other hand, has been a relatively late arrival. After his film "Crazy Heart" was released early to compete for this year's Oscars, Bridges immediately became a contender.

"He is in a very strong position," Kilday said. "It gives the community a chance to award someone they like a lot."

But Bullock's strong showing at this year's Globes and SAG Awards came as a surprise -- even to her.

"It's a fluke," she said backstage at the SAG Awards in January. "I feel it's wrong, if you really want to know the truth. My money was on Meryl, and I'll tell her that again and again."

That would be Meryl Streep, who was widely thought to be the Oscar frontrunner in a race against British newcomer Carey Mulligan, the star of "An Education." But like "The Blind Side," the title of the movie Bullock has been hailed for, the 45-year-old actress appears to have escaped everyone else's blind side.

When she tied with Streep at the Jan. 15 Critics' Choice Awards and spontaneously planted an open-mouthed kiss on the veteran actress, it was clear that Streep had new competition. Since winning the SAG Awards, it would appear Bullock is now the frontrunner to win the Oscar.

"Sandra Bullock is a force this awards season," Kilday said.

He doesn't think she has the race tied up yet, but if she does win, it will mean she overcame one of her biggest hurdles: her popularity. The winner of this year's "People Choice" award has been a mainstream movie star since her breakthrough role in "Speed."

Historically, the Academy has snubbed mainstream stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Meg Ryan and Harrison Ford.

But they will award those same stars when they act outside their comfort zones, and an inspirational picture like "Blind Side" can't hurt either. Just ask Julia Roberts, who won all three statues for "Erin Brockovich."

Even if Bullock doesn't take home Oscar, she's already achieved what no other woman has: helming the first female-driven movie to rake in more than $200 million at the box office.

"I would be a hostess or a waitress or a house restorer before I ever considered myself an actor, because I never thought I was good enough," Bullock said backstage at the SAG Awards.

No matter what happens at this year's Academy Awards, it looks like Bullock can stop worrying about finding another job.