Oscar nominations will be unveiled Tuesday morning. Here's what the derby track looks like in my crystal ball.
Vulnerable on the list above are "District 9," "Invictus" and "A Serious Man," which can be bumped by "The Hangover," "The Messenger," "A Single Man" or "Star Trek."
Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker"
James Cameron, "Avatar"
Lee Daniels, "Precious"
Jason Reitman, "Up in the Air"
Quentin Tarantino, "Inglourious Basterds"
These seem to be set in stone.
Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
George Clooney, "Up in the Air"
Colin Firth, "A Single Man"
Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"
Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"
Jeremy Renner may be bumped by Viggo Mortensen ("The Road").
Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"
Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"
Carey Mulligan, "An Education"
Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious"
Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia"
Emily Blunt ("The Young Victoria") might dethrone one of the above.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"
Christian McKay, "Me and Orson Welles"
Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"
Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"
Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"
This is one of the toughest categories to predict because there are too many other strong contenders, including Matt Damon ("Invictus"), Alec Baldwin ("It's Complicated"), Anthony Mackie ("The Hurt Locker") and Alfred Molina and Peter Sarsgaard ("An Education"). I put Christian McKay on my list because he gives a flashy portrayal of one of Hollywood's most idolized heroes, Orson Welles, in what is arguably a lead performance. Like Woody Harrelson, I think he even has a longshot chance to beat Christoph Waltz, but McKay's campaign DVD was sent rather late. That could hurt his chance of getting on this list.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"
Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"
Melanie Laurent, "Inglourious Basterds"
Mo'Nique, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
Samantha Morton, "The Messenger"
A different "Inglourious Basterds" star, Diane Kruger, got nommed at SAG, but she didn't have to battle Laurent, who competed in the lead race. Oscar voters can put actors in whatever category they choose and I think they'll put Laurent where she belongs, in supporting. But there's a strong chance that another SAG nominee, last year's winner Penelope Cruz ("Nine"), or Julianne Moore ("A Single Man") could break through here too.
"The Hurt Locker"
"A Serious Man"
I know, I know, James Cameron didn't get nominated for "Titanic," but I think that was because misogynist academy members pooh-poohed the screenplay for its wild, romantic ache. "Avatar" is more to their machismo taste, and to members of the Writers Guild where it got nommed. I know, I know, WGA nommed "Titanic" too and that didn't result in an Oscar bid, but over at the academy, I think all is forgiven now. That may mean a cold shoulder for "(500) Days of Summer."
"Julie & Julia"
"Up in the Air"
"Julie & Julia" is vulnerable, could be ousted by "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "A Single Man," "Invictus" or "The Road."
Illustration by Tom O'Neil
NOTE: An earlier draft of this article mistakenly listed Daniel Day-Lewis in place of Jeff Bridges in the lead actor race.