I haven't updated my original predictions on here since March. Yikes! A lot has changed since then so let's get started.
Changeling probably has the most buzz right now (probably because it's the only one people have had the chance to see, even if it was only at Cannes), but just wait until the release of Luhrmann's Australia and hopefully that will be the film everyone will be talking about. Frost/Nixon and Milk are the obligatory biopic nominees (although Milk actually looks to like a fascinating film) and Revolutionary Road will have the undeniable PR power from the reteaming of Titanic lovebirds DiCaprio and Winslet.
Benicio Del Toro, Che
Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road (or Body of Lies)
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Viggo Mortensen, The Road
Sean Penn, Milk
I'm already slightly bored with this category and am hoping for some new and unlikely contenders to emerge in the next couple of months. Del Toro has the Cannes win in his corner, but who knows if his film will even get released this year. Langella and Penn are the biopic subjects in two films I think will make the Top 5, so they're in as of right now. DiCaprio, just like in 2006, could go either way with his two films being released this year: will Oscar rather see him suffering in an unhappy marriage or looking for an Al Qadea leader in Jordan? Mortensen has a powerful Cormac McCarthy novel in his corner (I've only heard amazing things about the book...maybe I should pick it up soon) so that's enough for me at this early stage.
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Nicole Kidman, Australia
Julianne Moore, Blindness
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
I still haven't given up on Moore yet, no matter how unlikely her nomination is seeming at this point. Maybe she (and the film) gain some more buzz once it is released in September. Kidman, Streep and Winslet almost seem too perfect at this point, but until I find some other more likely contenders, they're staying in. Hathaway sneaks after the amazingness that was the first trailer for Rachel Getting Married. Will she get the attention she should have gotten three years ago for Brokeback Mountain?
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey, Jr., The Soloist
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Michael Sheen, Frost/Nixon
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road
At this point, Ledger is crushing the competition, so I'm curious to see if his buzz will last all the way until January or if it was subside as we move farther and farther away from The Dark Knight's dominance over our lives. Downey has gotten great reviews for both Iron Man and Tropic Thunder so I suspect that Oscar will top-off his spectacular comeback year with a nomination for his baitiest project, The Soloist. The film sounds completely shitty and almost designed solely for awards consdieration, but I doubt at this point that Oscar will go with both a Ben Stiller comedy and a comic book movie in its lineup. Brolin and Sheen still seem like good choices at this point so I'll stick with them. Oscar isn't as fond of male child actors as they are of females (I can only think of Jackie Cooper, Justin Henry and Haley Joel Osment getting nominations at such a young age, correct me if I'm wrong) so I'm a bit nervous for Smit-McPhee, but getting a nomination seems feasible at this point.
Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Samantha Morton, Synecdoche, New York
Ashley Tisdale, High School Musical 3: Senior Year
My craziest category as of right now. Cruz's film has just opened and she's been getting tons of press for her performance. Oscar has shown that they already love her so that's one less hurdle to overcome. Davis apparently has the "big" supporting role in Doubt; if the film is any good and she gets good press, add her name to the shortlist. I figure one of the multitude of supporting women in Synecdoche, New York has to get a nom and I'm just guessing Samantha Morton at this point. She can be fun when she wants to be, right? I don't know anything about Henson's role in Benjamin Button, but I think she's fabulous and if the film's big she could go all the way. I know it may seem like wishful thinking but wouldn't it be a wonderful world to live in if La Tisdale got an Oscar nomination for HSM3? Stupider (and sillier) films have been nominated and in the second one La Tisdale was so in tune with her character that she became the sole focal point of the movie.
Clint Eastwood, Changeling
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Spike Lee, Miracle at St. Anna
Baz Luhrmann, Australia
Gus Van Sant, Milk
Eastwood, Luhrmann and Van Sant are carry overs from the Best Picture race and I'm guessing there will be two "lone director" spots this year. Fincher hasn't been embraced by Oscar yet, but I think this year will be his year. Speaking of never being embraced by Oscar, Lee, 20+ years into his career, hasn't received a single Best Director nomination. Hopefully Oscar will right this wrong and give him a nom for his WWII drama (a favorite subgenre of Oscar) Miracle at St. Anna.
Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York
Baz Luhrmann, Stuart Beattie, Australia
J. Michael Straczytnski, Changeling
Stanley Weiser, W.
Best Adapted Screenplay
William Monahan, Steve Zaillian, Body of Lies
Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
Joe Penhall, The Road
Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley, Doubt