I know it's really early to start talking about next year's Oscars, but I think it's lots of fun to predict really early in advance and then laugh at all the stupid predictions in the coming months. So here they go:
*Charlie Wilson's War
Lions For Lambs
There Will Be Blood
(alternate: The Kite Runner)
Right now, the political minded Charlie Wilson's War looks like the safest bet to win, but really any of these could have a chance of winning if they are as great as they sound.
Adrien Brody, Manolete
John Cusack, Grace is Gone
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
*Joaquin Phoenix, Reservation Road
Denzel Washington, American Gangster
(alternate: Michael Douglas, King of California)
Since Phoenix hasn't won an Oscar yet and his role sounds baity enough (grieving father), I'd give him the edge early in the race but look out for Cusack, never nominated before, as a grieving husband who loses his wife in the Iraq War.
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Scarlett Johansson, The Other Boleyn Girl
*Catherine Keener, An American Crime
Julianne Moore, Savage Grace
Uma Thurman, In Bloom
(alternates: Cate Blanchett, The Golden Age and Nicole Kidman, Margot at the Wedding)
I hope that the Best Actress category turns out as fabulous as it sounds with so many potentially great performances coming. Look out for the double duo of Keener and Moore as two psychopathic killing mommies and Thurman as a school shooting survivor who still deals with survivor's guilt 20 years later.
Best Supporting Actor
Philip Bosco, The Savages
*Albert Finney, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Clive Owen, The Golden Age
Alan Rickman, Sweeney Todd
Mark Ruffalo, Reservation Road
(alternates: Heath Ledger, I'm Not There and Jake Gyllenhaal, Rendition)
Albert Finney is one of Oscar's perennial losers (not as bad as Peter O'Toole, however) and could potentially receive that ellusive prize with Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. But watch for Ruffalo as the man who accidentally kills Joaquin Phoenix's son in Reservation Road which could spoil Finney's win.
Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
*Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding
Natalie Portman, The Other Boleyn Girl
Vanessa Redgrave, Evening
Evan Rachel Wood, In Bloom
(alternate: Michelle Pfeiffer, Hairspray)
Jennifer Jason Leigh is one of those amazing actresses who have never been nominated for an Oscar. Expect considerable buzz for her performance in Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding.
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Marc Forster, The Kite Runner
Terry George, Reservation Road
*Mike Nichols, Charlie Wilson's War
Ridley Scott, American Gangster
(alternate: Robert Redford, Lions For Lambs)
Mike Nichols hasn't won since 1967 (for The Graduate) so expect the Academy to want to reward him with a second one for the political Charlie Wilson's War.