Who should win: Those few who have witnessed Leo's note-perfect performance in River will not soon forget it.
- Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
- Sean Penn, Milk
- Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
- Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Who will win: Rourke has been rapidly exhausting his goodwill with his erratic off-screen behavior (which is just puzzling, as he's not getting the award for his lifestyle). Nonetheless, look for Penn's earnest embodiment to eke out a victory.
Who should win: Rourke. While his face may have changed over the years, his talent continues to mesmerize.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Amy Adams, Doubt
- Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
- Viola Davis, Doubt
- Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Who will win: Cruz has been the slow and steady one in this race, and was the standout of Woody Allen's sexed-up dramedy. And while Davis was equally impressive, her marginal role in Doubt may not be enough against some of the meatier roles.
Who should win: Between The Wrestler and last year's Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead Tomei has bared herself to the audience in ways no other mainstream actress of her generation has.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Josh Brolin, Milk
- Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
- Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
- Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
Who should and will: A much deserving Heath Ledger.
- Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
- Stephen Daldry, The Reader
- David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
- Gus Van Sant, Milk
Who will win: Danny Boyle. For all its sentimental faults, he raised Slumdog with skill and technical verisimilitude.
Who should win: It always seems as though this category exists for voters to split love between two Best Picture favorites, so since I selected Benjamin for the top honors, it's only fitting that Fincher should prevail here.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
- Dustin Lance Black, Milk
- Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
- Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
- Marttin McDonagh, In Bruges
- Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, WALL·E
Who will win: Milk's Black crafted a fine highlight reel of the politician's life, which should also get a boost from those in the Prop. 8 state.