Awards Season kicks up a gear this Thursday with the announcement of the Oscar nominees.
We'll be all over the noms as they happen (find us on Twitter to join in), but for now, here's totalfilm.com 's predictions on exactly what we'll be blabbing - and Tweeting - about on January 22, 5pm Pacific Time.
Slumdog Millionaire - Gathering pace after a sweep at the Golden Globes. A feelgood movie in feel-bad times.
The Wrestler - While it might have more of a chance in the Best Actor Category, we reckon the Academy will at least give it a nod here.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - The effects are getting most of the buzz, but the American critics think it's a masterpiece (we don't).
The Dark Knight - Will the Academy’s legendary bias against fantasy and comic book pics hamper it? Sadly, the death of Heath Ledger might have given it the gravitas to transcend the snobbery.
Milk - Another one more likely to pick up individual acting awards, but Gus Van Sant’s biopic could be the dark horse.[page-break]
Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road)
- Sam competently directs his missus (Kate Winslet) and her old mucker (Leonardo DiCaprio) and paints a queasy picture of the American suburban dream gone askew.
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) - Shooting in India earned Boyle lots of respect and the movie is a sturdy critic-punter crossover favourite.
Chris Nolan (The Dark Knight) - Nolan crafted a comic book movie like a crime flick and stemped his own personal, psychology-obsessed touches all over it. We're more confident of seeing a nomination here than in the Best Picture category.
David Fincher (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) - Scandalously, the Academy ignored Zodiac. This could be where they put right the Fincher-wrong.
Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) - Aronoksky strips back his visual style and adopts a more naturalistic approach. Subtle and yet still stylised, he's become the kind of left-field indie - and the Academy likes to tip its hat to those types once in a while. (Also See: David Lynch).[page-break]
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) - The Rourke/Randy crossover appeal is bittersweet and triumphant. He'll be nommed - and he'll win.
Brad Pitt (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) - Pitt's performance isn't exactly memorable, but the voters always like an actor who conveys the complete life of a character.
Sean Penn (Milk) - A strong turn from Penn based on a real life firebrand equals a happy Academy. And Penn's due a gong...
Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road) - He’s a regularly nominated thesp but will the performance be eclipsed by his co-star?
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) - Bringing his stage role to life on film, Langella has Nixon's sleaze and shiftiness down perfectly.[page-break]
Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) - Irresistible and naturalistic. The Globe win means she’s a definite possibility.
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) - Subtle but sharp - Hathaway shows her substance.
Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road) - The favourite... at last.
Meryl Streep (Mamma Mia) -
Because it wouldn’t be an Academy Awards without her.
Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button) - Another solid turn from a previous winner.[page-break]
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) - Another Golden Globe-grabber - and much more than just a sympathy vote.
Robert Downey Jr (Tropic Thunder)
- Come on. Don’t you want to see the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude get nominated?
Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) - He’s a wildcard, for sure. But the turn in Slumdog has garnered plenty of notice.
James Franco (Milk) - His role as Harvey Milk’s lover has been overshadowed by the leading man, but it’s still great work.
Ralph Fiennes (The Duchess) - Another long shot, but we’ll throw him into the mix. Why? Because it's The Duchess. It's period drama. It feels important. And it's the Oscars.[page-break]
Kate Winslet (The Reader) - She'll be nominated here, but it's clearly her year for best actress. Can she do a double?
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) - The stripper with a heart of gold doesn't seem so corny when delivered by Tomei. She doesn't have a shot at winning, but there might be a nod aimed her way.
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
- Will she ride her nutty turn to an Academy nod?
Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married) - Quiet, understated, smart. Just the sort of thing that earns an Oscar nomination.
Amy Adams (Doubt) - The rank outsider, but in with a shout..
Have we got it bang on? Completely wrong? Or are the Oscars just a tarted-up industry awards dinner and you'll be glad when they're over? Let us know, below.