The Big Five seem pretty much locked at this point, but everything else… Let's speculate, shall we?
Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Some would say it was her year. That was before the Golden Globes and the BFCAs.
Viola Davis – Doubt
Ten minutes of screen time that stands up to the two hours Streep and Hoffman get.
Rosemarie DeWitt – Rachel Getting Married
Kind of a long shot, but this was more interesting than matching the SAG noms exactly. Plus, I like Mad Men.
Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
The one to beat, except for the actual one to beat.
Kate Winslet – The Reader
The actual one to beat. Finally.
Sorely overlooked: Hiam Abbass in The Visitor
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin – Milk
Deserves it for the scene where he shows up drunk to Milk's birthday party alone.
Robert Downey, Jr. – Tropic Thunder
Not so much irony that he'll get a nod for playing an Oscar-trolling actor as inevitability.
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt
He just doesn't stop being awesome, does he?
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Yes, tragedy probably makes this a lock, but I think he would win regardless.
Dev Patel – Slumdog Millionaire
A long shot for the gold. Film will have to settle for winning all those other awards like Best Picture and Best Director.
And yes, I've matched SAG exactly here.
Sorely overlooked: Haaz Sleiman in The Visitor. Yeah. I really liked that film.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Eric Roth
Not so much an adaptation as a reinvention.
The Dark Knight – Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Action screenplays rarely get this kind of love. Then again, they're rarely this good.
Doubt – John Patrick Shanley
A lot of people say this screenplay feels too much like a play. I say, "good."
Frost/Nixon – Peter Morgan
Doesn't feel anything like a play. I still say, "good."
Slumdog Millionaire – Simon Beaufoy
Some of the most inventive storytelling I've seen in years.
Once again, I'm matching the guild.
Sorely overlooked: Son of Rambow by Garth Jennings
Best Original Screenplay
Milk – Dustin Lance Black
Made me cry.
Rachel Getting Married - Jenny Lumet
Surprisingly not nominated by the WGA, but a frontrunner in many critics circles. Not to mention dynasty (she's Sidney's daughter).
The Visitor – Thomas McCarthy
This slot could just as easily go to Happy-Go-Lucky, but this one's actually on the WGA radar.
WALL•E - Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon
No longer seems risky to tap Pixar films for this slot.
The Wrestler - Robert D. Siegel
Will the love go here if Rourke doesn't get a win?
Sorely overlooked: In Bruges by Martin McDonagh, although it could spoil.
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
She'll have to fight Kate for the win. I would watch that fight.
Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky
Might benefit from a Winslet/Hathaway split vote. Think Marion Cotillard last year.
Melissa Leo – Frozen River
If SAG can remember, so can the Academy.
Meryl Streep – Doubt
Really, really deserves it.
Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road
She'd be the ninth actress to get a supporting and lead nod in the same year (and the second in as many years), but the first to win both if she did.
Sorely overlooked: Anamaria Marinca in 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (eligibility issue: nominated for Best Foreign last year, but got it's domestic release in 2008, so are the performances fair game?)
Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road
Academy loves Leo.
Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon
It pays to keep the same cast from stage to screen.
Sean Penn – Milk
The one to beat.
Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The first time I've seen him truly inhabit a role.
Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
The one to beat Penn.
Sorely Overlooked: Andrew Garfield in Boy A (although I'm not sure it's eligible since it's been on British TV). Either lead from In Bruges. Josh Brolin in W.
Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire
And he'll win.
David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
And he should win.
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Academy loves Ron.
Chris Nolan – The Dark Knight
DGA nods made it official. The Dark Knight didn't just happen.
Gus Van Sant – Milk
Would be his second nod. His first was 12 years ago.
Matching the DGA nods here, and we're not done.
Sorely overlooked: Thomas McCarthy for The Visitor. That movie didn't just happen, either.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
And two weeks ago I would have told you it would win.
The Dark Knight
With this, could get the same major nods as Star Wars back in the day (Screenplay, Director, Supporting Actor, Picture).
Who'da thunk that Ron Howard would be a name you'd regularly associate with Oscar-nominated flicks?
In another year, this slot might go to WALL•E, but the passing of Prop 8 puts Milk front and center.
Two weeks ago I would not tell you that it would win. Now I will.
Matching the PGA nods here, and largely because for the first time in a while, the PGA and DGA nods line up exactly.
Sorely overlooked: I know you thought I would say The Visitor, but instead I'm going to say Doubt, which moved me more.
Oscar nods will be announced on Thursday, January 22 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern.