||UP: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire. Of the twentysomething pre-Oscar awards for Best Director, he's won sixteen. His nearest competition? Gus Van Sant, who got two.
||DOWN: David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Critics agree: His movie is spectacularly well made but almost impossible to love. Also, he might have a better chance if voters didn't think he was "such a jerk."
|CURRENT PREDIX: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire; David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon; Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight; Gus Van Sant, Milk
||UP: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler. Besides whoever's leaking Rourke's idiotic text messages, does anybody not want to see him win this?
||DOWN: Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon. It's looking more likely that Clint Eastwood will take Leonardo DiCaprio's slot in this category — will he and Langella split older voters?
|CURRENT PREDIX: Clint Eastwood Gran Torino; Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon; Sean Penn, Milk; Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
||UP: Cate Blanchett, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The fact that her performance shines through special effects (and the movie's fourteen-hour running time) did not go unnoticed by critics — could she sneak in there? Her Vanity Fair cover probably doesn't hurt.
||DOWN: Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road. Her movie doesn't seem to be finding much support. Will a former front-runner have to fight for a nomination?
|CURRENT PREDIX: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married; Melissa Leo, Frozen River; Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long; Meryl Streep, Doubt; Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
|Best Supporting Actor
||UP: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight. He's won pretty much every critics' prize, and his Oscar victory is probably this year's surest bet.
||DOWN: Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire. Enthusiasm for the film still doesn't seem to be translating into very much Oscar buzz for its star.
|CURRENT PREDIX: Josh Brolin, Milk; James Franco, Milk; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight; Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
|Best Supporting Actress
||UP: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler. She's taken home more pre-Oscar prizes than presumed front-runner Penélope Cruz — maybe this is a race after all?
||DOWN: Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. She's great, sure, but it turns out all of her big scenes are near the beginning of a three-hour movie.
|CURRENT PREDIX: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Viola Davis, Doubt; Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married; Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler; Kate Winslet, The Reader