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Oscar nomination ballots are due January 12th which means we have entered the final stretch of Oscar season. Calling the races becomes a bit easier once nominations have been announced, and the buzz and acclaim these films have amassed will hopefully continue to help them all the way to Oscar night. But for now. . . The Likely Five.

Best Picture:

American Gangster, Atonement, Juno, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood So a few weeks ago, it seemed Sweeny Todd was a shoo-in, but a lot of its buzz has subsided. Atonement, Juno, and Country are pretty sure bets. Blood can pull it off, but it is Gangster that still remains questionable. Don’t be surprised if Into the Wild or Michael Clayton comes in to take the spot.


Best Director:

Ethan and Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men); Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood); Joe Wright (Atonement); Sean Penn (Into the Wild); Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

While the Best Director nominees usually go hand-in-hand with the Best Picture nominees, this year looks to be atypical. The Coens, Anderson, and Wright, again, are sure bets. And just to show how up-and-down award season can be: A few weeks ago, it looked like Penn would be snubbed, but now, it is looking more favorably that he will get nominated. Given Penn’s respected reputation in the entertainment industry, possible support from his peers could give him the edge. Schnabel is seemingly always mentioned when it comes to Director Lists, and his achievement with Butterfly is where the film’s praise lies.

Best Actor:

Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood); George Clooney (Michael Clayton); James McAvoy (Atonement); Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd); Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl)

Day-Lewis, Clooney, and McAvoy: If not nominated, something’s wrong with the Academy. Depp should pull one off for his performance in Todd, especially since the film’s acclaim is geared towards him. That fifth spot, though, remains tricky. Gosling could easily take it, but Into the Wild buzz has been hitting a stride lately, so its possible Emile Hirsch could secure it.

Best Actress:

Julie Christie (Away From Her); Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose); Ellen Page (Juno); Keira Knightly (Atonement); Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart). Things haven’t changed much for Christie, Cotillard, or Page. All of them still split the Best Actress awards given thus far. Knightly will get in on the Atonement buzz, deservedly so. And Jolie remains a stronger candidate than other actresses.

Best Supporting Actor:

Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild); Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men); Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford); Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton); Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War). Holbrook and Bardem only seem to gain momentum every time their names are read; expect a nomination for both. Wilkinson and Hoffman are picking up steam, right when the final votes are being placed. Affleck, a strong contender, would not a be a surprise nomination. . . or a surprise snub. Will his work in Gone Baby Gone split the vote? If so, that makes room for Tommy Lee Jones for Country.

Best Supporting Actress:

Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton); Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There); Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone); Ruby Dee (American Gangster); Saoirse Ronan (Atonement). Dee, might be the biggest nomination Gangster receives, and a way to show the film that the Academy admires it. Ronan will ride the Atonement wave, assuming the film gets several nominations. And as for Ryan, Blanchett, and Swinton, it’s the same story: shoo-ins.