Well, that was an exciting Oscar morning!

Upsets and surprises ruled the early morning at the Samuel Goldwyn theater as The Dark Knight got shut out, The Reader became apparently the best movie of all time and Kate Winslet got a nomination in a category in which her performance wasn’t supposed to be competing.

Of course, this calls for a whole new set of power rankings. Contenders below are now listed in order of their likelihood to win. Remember, no previous voting or buzz matters anymore. The race begins anew today, so let’s see who’s in contention…

Best Picture

Rank Best Movie
1 Slumdog Millionaire With “The Dark Knight” out of the running, absolutely nothing stands a chance of beating this crowd favorite.  This should stay at the top spot through Oscar night.
2 The Reader The big shocker of the morning gets a boost because it was so unlikely.  The surprise aspect helps it by generating more buzz in the short term, but this may ultimately fade.
3 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button “Button” got more nominations (13) than any other film including five in the big eight categories. Looks like there may be more support for this film than anyone thought.
4 Frost/Nixon This film is finally getting released nationwide which should really help its buzz factor. It has the best shot of any to really rise up this list in a hurry.
5 Milk “Milk” snuck in and should be happy just to be nominated. This isn’t a film that’s going to generate enough box office to create any buzz and its star, Sean Penn, isn’t one to do much campaigning.

Best Director

Rank Director – Movie
1 Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire Just like his film, Boyle benefits greatly by the across-the-board snub of “The Dark Knight”. He’s almost impossible to beat at this point.
2 David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Voters will see “Button” as more of director’s accomplishment than anything else, and since there still seems to be great love for the picture, Fincher has a real shot of upsetting Boyle.
3 Stephen Daldry - The Reader Gets the initial boost from being such a shocking nominee. Buzz should wane, but with Kate Winslet by his side you never know.
4 Gus Van Sant - Milk Got big cheers when they read his name this morning. Gus Van Sant has always been well-liked, and voters should welcome his return to the mainstream.
5 Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon It’s a bit strange to have the beloved Ron Howard sitting at the bottom of this list, but it seems like people see “Frost/Nixon” as more of a writer’s film than a director’s. The wide release will help him out.

Best Actor

Actor – Film Comment
1 Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler Clint is out and Mickey is now on top.  As “The Wrestler” expands expect more and more people to rave about his performance. Plus he seems like he actually wants to win.
2 Sean Penn – Milk Gave a massively raved-about performance, but Penn is notoriously shy about campaigning and it isn’t going to help him that he’s publicly supported Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro recently.
3 Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button He’s by far the biggest star on the list, and he’s in a film with 13 other nominations. Seems like “Button” should allow him to appeal to all types of voters.
4 Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon Like everything “Frost/Nixon”, he stands to benefit from its wide release this weekend. His performance just doesn’t seem sexy enough at this point to carry him in. Of course, he was paying Richard Nixon so maybe that’s the point.
5 Richard Jenkins - The Visitor Remember the old cliche, “It’s an honor just to be nominated”? Never has that been more applicable than to this veteran character actor. I’m sure he’ll be happy just to be along for the ride.

Best Actress

Rank Actress – Film Comments
1 Kate Winslet - The Reader Kate the Great missed out on notching two nominations this year as “The Reader” netted her a nomination in this category (something that isn’t supposed to be able to happen since she was campaigning for supporting).  She’ll have to take solace in likely winning her first Oscar.
2 Meryl Streep - Doubt There’s a theory going around that Meryl Streep wins every five times she’s nominated. This is her 15th nominaton, so she’s got to win. Right?
3 Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married She led the planet in buzz for the longest time but now it all just seems kind of boring. Maybe she’ll feel a resurgence as people discover this film on DVD, but as it stands she just seems like the inevitable nominee with no chance of winning.
4 Angelina Jolie – Changeling It seems that Academy hatred of her was just a myth, but do they like her enough to give her a second Oscar? Doesn’t seem likely – not with Winslet and Streep to vault over.
5 Melissa Leo – Frozen River This film is way too small and far too little-seen to make Leo anything more than a grateful nominee.

Best Supporting Actor

Rank Actor – Film Comment
1 Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight It’s going to take some sort of seismic shift in buzz for Ledger not to win. Though his chances are certainly hurt a bit by “The Dark Knight” not being nominated in any other major category.
2 Phillip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt With such an Oscar-baity role he seems like the only one with a real chance of upsetting Heath. Doesn’t appear likely though.
3 Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road The surprise nominee gets the shock buzz in this category. It’s not likely that will sustain as he doesn’t have Kate Winslet’s coattails to ride or any other major nominee’s for that matter.
4 Robert Downey, Jr. – Tropic Thunder The Academy isn’t really going to give somebody an Oscar in a silly a summer comedy appearing in blackface are they?
5 Josh Brolin – Milk He’s no longer the buzzed-about actor without a nomination, but he will remain the buzzed-about actor without a win.

Best Supporting Actress

Rank Actress – Film Comments
1 Viola Davis – Doubt This category is absolutely wide open, and Davis has just the sort of role that thrives at Supporting Actress – short, emotional, and memorable.
2 Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona Has the Anne Hathaway syndrome, but not to the point that she seem overexposed. She’s hurt by the fact that Woody missed out on a screenplay nomination.
3 Taraji P. Henson – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button A very very mild surprise (really not a surprise at all if we knew Kate Winslet wasn’t going to get nominated in this category for anything) in a movie that seems revitalized. She’s number three with a bullet.
4 Amy Adams - Doubt As more people discover this film based on its four acting nominations, it’s entirely possible that voters will realize that Adams gave the far more complex and superior to performance to Davis and shift their support to her. Doesn’t seem that likely though.
5 Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler You know it’s a wide open category when Marisa Tomei is currently trailing for a praised role in a buzzed-about film. She actually has as a good a chance to win as anybody on this list – stay tuned.