The actors got their night in the spotlight (as opposed to every other night of the year) on Sunday with the 15th annual SAG Awards. Since actors make up the largest portion of the Academy, this is always an important precursor and a great way to check the temperature of the race. So what did we learn last night? Nothing.

No, the SAGs created more confusion than anything else. It didn’t help that Kate Winslet won in the wrong category with respect to her Oscar nomination and that Oscar darling Meryl Streep benefited. This also, of course, did little to clear up the Supporting Actress race as none of the Academy Award nominees in that category could win. Plus, Sean Penn swapped another award (SAG for Golden Globe) with Mickey Rourke, putting the two in a virtual tie. So those races are all up in the air.

Three things are certain however. Everybody loves Slumdog Millionaire, Heath Ledger and Danny Boyle, something the SAGs only continued to hammer home. So with all that in mind and this being the day the Academy mails out the final ballots, it’s time for a fresh Oscar Power Rankings.

As always, these are listed in order of likelihood of winning the award.

Best Picture

RK (LW) Movie Comments
1 (1) Slumdog Millionaire Upset “Doubt” to win the SAG ensemble prize. Is there any stopping this behemoth?
2 (3) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The crowd at the SAGs seemed very supportive of this film, and it looks like Brad Pitt will be out campaigning – hard to get more media attention than that.
3 (5) Milk Penn’s win gives “Milk” a boost, as does the fact that its subject matter may compel those members of the Academy looking to make a statement to vote in its favor.
4 (2) The Reader Let the Harvey Weinstein backlash begin – there’s a reason he never wins with these surprise nominees, because everyone gets upset that his fiery campaigning destroys what is supposed to be recognition of merit. Plus, it’s been nailed with the “mixed reviews” tag.
5 (4) Frost/Nixon Just seems like such a boring choice. It didn’t set the box office world afire with its expanded release last weekend either.

Best Director

RK (LW) Director – Movie
1 (1) Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire There’s just absolutely no way he is going to lose this one.
2 (2) David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Well-liked and long-acclaimed, with such an epic film he’d have a good shot in any other year – but Boyle looks impenetrable at this point.
3 (4) Gus Van Sant - Milk It appears as though they loved this film at the SAGs, and the actors are the largest voting block in the general Oscar election. It could happen, but it’s very unlikely.
4 (5) Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon Actors always love Ron Howard, and the rest of Hollywood feels the same way. If he were still winless he’d be as good a bet as anyone, but the Oscar on his shelf dooms his chances this year.
5 (3) Stephen Daldry - The Reader He’s made three films, been nominated for Best Director three times, and looks as though he’ll lose for the third time too.

Best Actor

Actor – Film Comment
1 (2) Sean Penn – Milk The SAG win vaults him to the top, but he also has passed Mickey in the “most recent weird acceptance speech” category, so the evening might have hurt him more than it helped him.
2 (1) Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler Suddenly, he’s THE hot actor with a possible role in “Iron Man 2″ and an upcoming appearance at Wrestlemania. He’s likely to be everywhere for the next month which could either hurt or help him.
3 (3) Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button If anybody’s going to upset the top two on this chart it’s going to be the biggest star that got a nomination. It’s a longshot though.
4 (4) Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon He was always going to get nominated, but he was never going to win. The fact that the Las Vegas Film Critics Circle is his biggest win so far shows that everyone favors the top two.
5 (5) Richard Jenkins - The Visitor Got an Oscar nomination for his lead role ever in a film? Hopefully it won’t be his last of either, so he’ll get a legitimate chance at winning.

Best Actress

RK (LW) Actress – Film Comments
1 (1) Kate Winslet - The Reader Holds serve by winning for this role (albeit in the supporting category) at the SAGs. She’s starting to look vulnerable though.
2 (2) Meryl Streep - Doubt Meryl? With a SAG Award? He’s closing in on Kate, and as her acceptance speech proved, she just may be the coolest woman on the planet.
3 (4) Angelina Jolie – Changeling Never underestimate the star factor. She and Brad are going to be everywhere this month as their dual nominations monopolize the buzz.
4 (3) Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married She appeared to be the odds-on favorite to win about a month ago, now she’s looking like an also-ran. Her only hope was a massive boost from the film’s DVD release but it appears that isn’t coming out till March. Nobody’s doing her any favors.
5 (5) Melissa Leo – Frozen River She’s already a winner with a busy slate of films coming as a result of her Oscar buzz. Perhaps she’ll get a second shot soon.

Best Supporting Actor

RK (LW) Actor – Film Comment
1 (1) Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight Gambling advice:  Find a place where you can parlay Ledger, “Slumdog”, and Boyle.  You may only win a pittance, but it’s guaranteed.
2 (2) Phillip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt Gave a compelling performance in a film actors are respecting, but he’s not Heath Ledger.
3 (3) Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road Earning a ton of good buzz for his role as a mental patient on a 1-day pass, but he’s not Heath Ledger.
4 (4) Robert Downey, Jr. – Tropic Thunder The comeback story of the year – something the Academy loves, but not as much as they love Heath Ledger.
5 (5) Josh Brolin – Milk The film is gaining momentum, but not nearly enough to outpace Heath Ledger.

Best Supporting Actress

RK (LW) Actress – Film Comment
1 (3) Taraji P. Henson – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Taraji tops the list this week as “Benjamin Button” seems like it’s starting to gain back supporters. She’s the most likely beneficiary since she’s in such a wide-open category.
2 (2) Penelope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona She stays put at number two on the strength of lingering buzz, but it seems like everybody’s forgotten about this film. She’ll need a strong campaign.
3 (1) Viola Davis – Doubt She got the Meryl Streep seal of approval, but it’s starting to look like she and Adams are going to split too many votes.
4 (5) Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler Tomei has as good a shot as anybody, but it looks like the buzz is just going to go Rourke’s way for this film. Of course stranger things have happened.(see “My Cousin Vinny”)
5 (4) Amy Adams - Doubt She’s too affected by vote-splitting. Not good when your costar is the more likely winner.