More on the movie season…

December is almost upon us. So how’s that Oscar race shaping up?

Actually, this is looking like one of the most competitive races in a long time. The closest we have to a “sure winner” in any category would be Atonement for Best Picture, and that’s based almost entirely on expectations. If that movie turns out to be good but not great, suddenly everything’s wide open.

So, based on all that I’ve seen and read so far, I’ve taken a stab at ranking the potential nominees in all major acting categories, plus Best Pic and Director. These aren’t rankings based on personal opinion — I don’t think I’ve seen half of these films yet — but ranked by the likelihood of their receiving Oscar nominations. There are ten selections per category, and if the real nominees were announced today I believe they’d consist of the first five (bolded) from each list. There’s plenty of time for all this to change, of course, which is what makes it fun (for me, anyway).

Also, I’m not guessing winners at this point.

Denzel Washington (American Gangster)
Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah)
Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd)
Frank Langella (Starting Out in the Evening)

George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl)
Tom Hanks (Charlie Wilson’s War)
James McAvoy (Atonement)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Ellen Page (Juno)
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Amy Adams (Enchanted)
Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart)
Laura Linney (The Savages)
Keira Knightley (Atonement)
Keri Russell (Waitress)
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
Jodie Foster (The Brave One)

Supporting Actor
Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James)
Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild)
Russell Crowe (American Gangster)
Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma)
Ethan Hawke (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)
Philip Bosco (The Savages)
Armin Mueller-Stahl (Eastern Promises)

Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There)
Saoirse Ronan (Atonement)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Ruby Dee (American Gangster)
Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)
Marisa Tomei (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)
Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement)
Romola Garai (Atonement)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Margot at the Wedding)
Catherine Keener (Into the Wild)

Ethan Coen & Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men)
Joe Wright (Atonement)
Sidney Lumet (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)
Ridley Scott (American Gangster)
Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)

Sean Penn (Into the Wild)
Mike Nichols (Charlie Wilson’s War)
David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises)
Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd)
Ang Lee (Lust, Caution)

Best Picture
No Country for Old Men
American Gangster
Charlie Wilson’s War

There Will Be Blood
Into the Wild
Michael Clayton
Sweeney Todd
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

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