The holidays meant a week off for the Oscar Power Rankings as only the mighty Oklahoma Film Critics Association handed out awards during the last week of the year. Luckily, heavy hitters like the Producers Guild of America and The National Society of Film Critics wet our precursor appetite this week.

Big stuff on the horizon for next week too as the Directors Guild and Writers Guild had out nominations while the Golden Globes and Broadcast Film Critics Association give out awards in the coming week.

Until then, here are the updated rankings featuring some substantial shakeups in the acting categories. Enjoy…

Best Picture

RK (LW) Movie Comments
1 (1) Slumdog Millionaire Another week, another “Slumdog” atop the rankings. Kind of getting boring, no? We need a scandal, like a sort of Danny Almonte situation where we find out Dev Patel is really 47-years-old. Something. This movie can’t be this invincible can it?
2 (2) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button “Button” sits at the two spot for one more week, but how long can it actually stay here? Has anybody actually seen this movie? It’s like 3 hours staring at wallpaper.
3 (3) Milk Milk just keeps chugging along, picking up important awards at every stop. It doesn’t seem like anybody’s really talking about it though.
4 (5) The Dark Knight Buzz is again building for the biggest movie of the year. In fact, it seems like there’s going to be a bit of backlash if this movie does not get nominated. How could the Academy really pass up the biggest hit movie this century? It would just show that they’re out of touch.
5 (4) Frost/Nixon Eh. This movie’s buzz has been waning for the last couple weeks. Maybe if, y’know, they actually released the film outside of major markets it would pick up – there’s a lot of people in smaller cities very interested in seeing this movie. On a side note, these predictions may seem very safe for the top five, and it’s true that everybody’s saying the same thing – but after the film received the five Producers Guild nominations it’s hard to pick anything else. So if you’re bored by Best Picture predictions this year, that’s why.
6 (7) The Wrestler “The Wrestler” continues to pick up critics awards late in the Oscar season, a good sign that buzz is growing – but are the top five too impenetrable at this point?
7 (6) Wall-E “Wall-E” really needed a PGA nomination to make it a serious contender, but a runner-up (“Waltz with Bashir”) from the National Society of Film Critics can’t hurt. Can it?
8 (9) Doubt Still virtually shut out by critics awards, but reviews have actually been generally positive – plus it got the most SAG nominations. Of course, so did “Into the Wild” last year, and that didn’t exactly work out.
9 (8) Revolutionary Road There really just is no buzz on this movie except for Kate Winslet’s performance. With this campaign at a complete standstill, maybe this will be the last time studios try the whole “Let’s release this in two theaters on New Year’s Eve and hope it catches on” strategy for the Oscars. Why not try to build some buzz?
10 (n/a) Rachel Getting Married This movie just seems to keep popping up on critics lists even as the noise for Anne Hathaway is dying down. Could this be a legit contender and not just a one actress wonder?

DroppingOut: “The Reader” (10)

Best Director

RK (LW) Director – Movie
1 (1) Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire What’s the scandal to unseat Danny Boyle? Ummmm. “Trainspotting” wasn’t really about trains? Seriously. This guy’s mantle must have collapsed by now from all the awards – he’s a lock.
2 (2) Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Nolan was already getting the most non-Heath Ledger love from this film, and now the buzz is beginning to swing back in its favor. A very good sign. He still needs a DGA nomination.
3 (3) David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button As people are actually seeing this movie and it’s begun getting labeled with the “boring” tag, Fincher is more vulnerable than ever, he just isn’t quite vulnerable enough to drop him down any lower.
4 (5) Gus Van Sant – Milk Van Sant has actually received the most critics awards of anybody not named Danny Boyle this year, and just finished runner up at the National Society of Film Critics (Mike Leigh). His lack of a Golden Globe nod still hurts, but a DGA on Thursday makes him a lock.
5 (4) Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon It’s true that the Academy loves Ron Howard, but the current buzz has him running behind a lot of the leaders, plus there’s nothing left to really help him out, even a DGA nomination doesn’t make him a cinch – He won the DGA for “Apollo 13″ and didn’t even get nominated for an Oscar. With buzz for “Frost/Nixon” at an all-time low, Howard is looking like the guy who’s film will get nominated while he doesn’t.
6 (7) Andrew Stanton – WALL-E This has never happened before – a director of animated film’s getting nominated – but this is the best chance ever. Voters could decide not to nominate “Wall-E” for the big prize and honor it here instead in order to give it greater recognition – the DGA means everything to Stanton.
7 (6) Darren Aronofsky – The Wrestler As “Wrestler” buzz builds, so does praise for its director, long heralded as a great budding talent in the industry, now he has a buzzed-about movie to match.
8 (NR) Mike Leigh – Happy-Go-Lucky Somehow, some way, the buzz for “Happy-Go-Lucky” is surging, and its director just won the National Film Critics Society award. There’s a good chance that a surprise DGA nod could land him his third Oscar nomination.
9 (8) Sam Mendes – Revolutionary Road Buzz just sort of stopped for this movie and it looks like Mendes chances have fallen off greatly as well. It’s not impossible for him to get nominated at this point, just kind of impossible.
10 (10) Jonathan Demme – Rachel Getting Married The buzz for this film is growing strong over the past couple weeks. Could he get nominated? Probably not, but he deserves a mention.

Dropping Out: Stephen Daldry – The Reader (9)

Best Actor

Actor – Film Comment
1 (1) Sean Penn – Milk Even though it seems Sean Penn’s current BFF is Fidel Castro, he’s still the surest thing in this category.
2 (2) Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler What else can be said about Rourke? He just keeps winning and he’s going to get nominated.
3 (3) Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon Another sure thing. The fun begins below.
4 (7) Clint Eastwood – Gran Torino Suddenly, EVERYBODY seems to be saying Clint’s a lock for this award, and that can be more important than any awards. Remember, he didn’t get ANY precursor love for “Million Dollar Baby” and got nominated there, so maybe the awards don’t matter in Clint-land. Plus he did just finished third (Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke) for the National Society of Film Critics Award for his first precursor in weeks. The buzz is getting huge and, once again, this is probably Clint’s final acting role.
5 (4) Richard Jenkins – The Visitor Don’t count him out yet, he’s till got that SAG nomination in his back pocket, plus he’s running fourth in overall precursor love. The buzz isn’t really there, but it’s hard to ignore all those accolades.
6 (6) Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button No SAG nod still leaves Pitt on the outside looking in. Plus his performance really isn’t very showy, something the Academy loves. There’s a chance the huge box office could carry him through, but there’s also a chance that so many people seeing the movie means there are just more people thinking Pitt’s role is simply a special effect.
7 (4) Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road If you find the buzz for this movie, chances are you’re pretty close to Jimmy Hoffa as well, so keep a look out. Looks like Leo will lose out again.
8 (8) Josh Brolin – W. Brolin’s just going to keep sitting here at number 8 until something monumental happens – a little too late in the game for that.
9 (9) Dustin Hoffman – Last Chance Harvey We’re less than a week away from Dustin Hoffman winning a Golden Globe. Get ready for Sunday, Dusty!
10 (NR) Benecio Del Toro – Che And this week’s “Included Just for the Hell of It” nomination is… Benecio Del Toro for “Che” because he got an Online Film Critics Society Nomination. Yay!

Dropping Out: Jean-Claude Van Damme – JCVD (10)

Best Actress

RK (LW) Actress – Film Comments
1 (2) Meryl Streep – Doubt The queen is back on top. Middling reviews be damned, the Streeper is the Babe Ruth of the Oscars.
2 (1) Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married A-Hath slips a bit this week. She’s still a sure thing, but nobody seems to be talking about her anymore. Could this be the beginning of an Eddie Murphy in “Norbit”-like “Bride Wars” backlash? Wouldn’t be a surprise at all.
3 (3) Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road All the above ramblings about how “Revolutionary Road” buzz is about as scarce as people who still like The Killers, does not apply to Kate Winslet who is completely invincible to anything negative surrounding any movie she’s in. Kate’s the favorite to win at this point.
4 (6) Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky Hawkins is back. It looked like the miss at the SAGs was going to doom her, but that hasn’t slowed down the rate at which she’s been accumulating critics awards – including a recent win from the National Society of Film Critics.
5 (5) Melissa Leo – Frozen River Melissa Leo just keeps picking up awards to with her SAG nomination. Nobody anywhere has actually seen this movie, but when you win enough awards it doesn’t matter.
6 (4) Angelina Jolie – Changeling Hmmm. This is seeming very familiar. Lots of awards, SAG and Golden Globe nominations seems pretty good, right? Well, that’s exactly what happened last year – when she didn’t get nominated for “A Might Heart”. A Brangelina shutout seems nigh.
7 (9) Michelle Williams – Wendy & Lucy The buzz for “Wendy & Lucy”, most specifically Williams’ performance, has been swelling over the last few weeks. Suddenly, Williams is a real contender and perhaps if the nominations were at the beginning of February she could build up enough momentum to get in. As it stands, it’s less likely.
8 (7) Cate Blanchett – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Even though she’s gotten nothing in the way of precursor support it’s impossible to count out Cate Blanchett in a movie that’s going to make $100MM.
9 (8) Kristin Scott Thomas – I’ve Loved You So Long All the buzz for this movie died about three weeks ago. Her only hope is a surprise Golden Globe win on Sunday, but that doesn’t seem likely.
10 (10) Meryl Streep – Mamma Mia! We’ll just leave Streep here in honor of her inevitable Golden Globe win on Sunday. Could she win two in one night?
Best Supporting Actor

RK (LW) Actor – Film Comment
1 (1) Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight What is there left to say about Ledger at this point? He’s going to get nominated and he’s going to win. RIP.
2 (2) Phillip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt Let’s just leave PSH here for now. There’s not a lot of difference between 2, 3, and 4 and he has the most Oscar-friendly role and the best pedigree.
3 (3) Josh Brolin – Milk Josh Brolin keeps picking up precursor love. Even this late in the game he’s gaining steam. Looks like he’s again peaking in buzz at the right time, and it’s about time for this excellent actor.
4 (4) Robert Downey, Jr. – Tropic Thunder This will be RDJ’s second nomination. Now that he appears to have put his demons behind him, what do we put the over/under at for Oscar nominations by 2020? 5? 6? Doesn’t seem unlikely. Also nice to see that the Academy comedy bias is slowly falling away.
5 (10) Eddie Marsan – Happy-Go-Lucky There has never been a really strong number five contender this year, and suddenly with a National Society of Film Critics Award and a few smaller precursor nominations, Marsan has emerged in this slot. The buzz for the movie as a whole is growing fast, and Marsan now looks like he could slip in.
6 (6) Dev Patel – Slumdog Millionaire The odd recipient of SAG nomination holds firm at number six. People LOVE “Slumdog Millionaire” and even though nobody else is talking about him, the SAG nod for Patel means he’s still got a great chance.
7 (8) Tom Cruise – Tropic Thunder Don’t think that the surprisingly robust “Valkyrie” box office doesn’t help Cruise here. He’s going to be working the Red Carpet at the Golden Globes Sunday, and the DVD release of “Tropic Thunder will certainly have people talking.
8 (5) Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road So, the buzz on “Revolutionary Road” has come to a standstill, and Shannon thusly appears to be a longshot. He can take solace in knowing that he’ll certainly win awards for scariest FYC ad.
9 (7) James Franco – Milk Where has the buzz gone? First SAG passed him up and since then, nothing new has happened. Looks like he’ll have to wait till another year.
10(10) Bill Irwin – Rachel Getting Married Bill Irwin got nominated by the Chicago Film Critics and that’s enough to put anybody in a movie starring the super-buzzed-about Anne Hathaway onto this list.
Best Supporting Actress

RK (LW) Actress – Film Comments
1(2) Viola Davis – Doubt Davis is now racking up awards at a quicker clip than Penelope Cruz and has always had the more Oscar-friendly role, but they’re both locks.
2 (1) Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona It’s just become boring to keep Cruz at the top, kind of in the same way Hathaway took a slight tumble this week. Sometimes huge buzz wears thin.
3 (3) Kate Winslet – The Reader Is this the year Winslet finally wins an Oscar? She looks certain to notch nominations 6 and 7 this year, as buzz for her performance in “The Reader” is gaining steam.
4 (4) Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler The lack of a SAG nod doesn’t seem like it will matter for Tomei as she’s been piling up critics awards in the last few weeks. Looks like the SAG snub is more a product of many people not having seen the film yet than it is a criticism of Tomei’s performance.
5 (5) Amy Adams – Doubt It’s amazing that Doubt appears certain to get four acting nominations but has only an outside shot at Best Picture. Adams is the most vulnerable of the bunch as the buzz is almost entirely going in Davis’ direction.
6 (6) Taraji P. Henson – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Just not enough buzz to put Henson in, though the film’s robust box office certainly helps. Like Pitt, her performance may seem more a product of makeup and effects to voters.
7 (7) Rosemarie DeWitt – Rachel Getting Married She just keeps racking of critics awards here-and-there, but never enough to move her up on this list. Still seems like a likely longshot if that makes any sense.
8 (8) Evan Rachel Wood – The Wrestler There’s still a chance that love for “The Wrestler” will spill over, but it’s unlikely.
9 (NR) Hanna Schygulla – The Edge of Heaven Who? Well, she won the National Society of Film Critics Award, and that’s good enough to get her ninth slot on this list.
10 (9) Frances McDormand – Burn After Reading Eh, the “Burn After Reading Movement” seems over, even with a popular DVD release. Brad Pitt is actually getting the most buzz from the movie now as “Button” detractors insist he was better in this film than his latest blockbuster (they’re right).

Dropping Out: Beyonce Knowles – Cadillac Records (10)