The nominations are crystallizing. The race is getting clearer and clearer.
Here is v. 2.0 of the Charts...
1. Slumdog Millionaire
2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
5. The Dark Knight
Outside looking in: Doubt, Wall-E, Revolutionary Road
Note: Slumdog solidified its lead even further last Sunday, so in essence there wasn't any real movement. However, I moved Milk from #2 to #4 simply because it is being forgotten in a big way. It has the muscle to take down Slumdog--and I still believe it is really the only film that has that potential--but Focus needs to mount a HUGE campaign in the lead-up to the ceremony.
1. Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
2. David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
3. Gus Van Sant, Milk
4. Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
5. Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Outside looking in: Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married; Mike Leigh, Happy Go Lucky; Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road; Steven Soderbergh, Che
Note: Nothing different here, either...Boyle wins going away.
1. Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
2. Sally Hawkins, Happy Go Lucky
3. Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
4. Meryl Streep, Doubt
5. Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long
Outside looking in: Angelina Jolie, Changeling; Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Note: Last week I went out on a limb and put the two indie girls--Sally Hawkins and Melissa Leo--on the list. This week I came back down to earth. But after her Globes win Sunday, Hawkins moves way up--not because of the win, but because of that beautiful, honest, tearful acceptance speech. If the Academy didn't fall in love with her during Happy Go Lucky, they fell in love with her during the Globes ceremony. In a wide open year, she could upset.
Also, I made a BIG swap at the top. Kate Winslet moves into the lead and Meryl Streep goes from the top to fourth. Why? Because Kate now has the heat in a big way...and because this wasn't seen as a "lock" performance for Streep. For that matter, it isn't a "lock" performance from Winslet either...but Streep has long been considered the Nomination Queen, and Winslet is the most respected actress out there who has yet to win an Oscar.
1. Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
2. Sean Penn, Milk
3. Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
4. Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
5. Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Outside looking in: Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Benecio Del Toro, Che; Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road
Note: I'm swapping Penn and Rourke for the moment. Rourke won the Globe and gave a memorable acceptance speech. Granted, the speech was more "Globes-y" than "Oscar-esque," if you will, but the Academy prides itself on "slumming it" once in a while. So Rourke has the momentum.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Kate Winslet, The Reader
2. Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
3. Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
4. Viola Davis, Doubt
5. Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Outside looking in: Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married; Debra Winger, Rachel Getting Married; Rebecca Hall, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Note: Yes, I'm aware that I'm jumping from one limb to the next. Right now, I have Kate Winslet on track to win two (2) Oscar statues. Not possible, right? I think so, too...but who else is leading the category right now? I don't know either. So by process of elimination, Winslet is the frontrunner. It is almost certain that she will win an Oscar. If she wins in this category--always an early-evening bellweather--then her odds of taking Best Actress goes down precipitously (though not even close to entirely). If Cruz, Tomei, or Davis win here, then it is a near lock for Winslet in Best Actress.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
2. Josh Brolin, Milk
3. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
4. Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
5. Michael Sheen, Frost/Nixon
Outside looking in: Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road; Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder; Eddie Marsan, Happy Go Lucky
Note: I'm not going to make any real adjustments here, simply because this category--even moreso than Best Picture or Best Director--is a lock waiting to be awarded. Ledger will win. And because of that obvious fact, it makes the four other nominees that much harder to predict. Brolin and Hoffman are likely in. Patel and Sheen are good bets. But with the category winner already a foregone conclusion, there is an opening for Oscar to give "happy-to-be-nominated" nominations to Michael Shannon or Robert Downey, Jr. Tough call...I want to take one more look before Nomination Morning.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
1. Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
2. Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
3. Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4. John Patrick Shanley, Doubt
5. Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Outside looking in: David Hare, The Reader; Justin Haythe, Revolutionary Road
Note: No movement...yet. Beaufoy is your winner--easily--but the other nominees are still up in the air. A quick study of the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) nominations (announced after my first set of charts) supports this current line-up, so...it's looking good for now.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
1. Andrew Stanton and Jim Reardon, Wall-E
2. Dustin Lance Black, Milk
3. Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married
4. Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
5. Robert Siegel, The Wrestler
Outside looking in: Tom McCarthy, The Visitor; Mike Leigh, Happy Go Lucky; Joel and Ethan Coen, Burn After Reading
Note: I'm sticking with these for now as well, however...the WGA nominees have replaced two of my current predictions--Lumet for Rachel and...WALL-E!!!! Yikes. The two newly-minted Guild nominees are deserving--Tom McCarthy for the priceless, beautiful The Visitor and the Coen brothers for their very-undervalued Burn After Reading. But no Wall-E?? I don't know, I don't know, I don't know....
Round 2 is complete. Keep your eyes open for one final update before the nominations are announced next Thursday. And look for a report-slash-analysis of the Guild nominees and how they may impact the Oscar race.