- Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
- Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed
- Peter O'Toole, Venus
- Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
- Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
This was a difficult category to whittle down because there were so many great performances. I think Cohen's a lock for a nom, but look for Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) to sneak in, maybe ousting Will Smith.
- Toni Collette, Little Miss Sunshine
- Penelope Cruz, Volver
- Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
- Helen Mirren, The Queen
- Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
As hard as it was to narrow down the actor list, it was equally difficult to fill this category. Toni Collette's role was really more supporting than lead (as was Streep's, but don't even get me started on that), but someone has to fill the 5 slots. Had Little Children received more kudos all-around, I'd have Kate Winslet in her place.
- Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
- Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
- Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
- Jack Nicholson, The Departed
- Brad Pitt, Babel
- Adriana Barraza, Babel
- Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
- Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
- Rinko Kikuchi, Babel
- Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Another weak category, except for Hudson and Blanchett. Not that Barraza, Breslin or Kikuchi gave weak performances - quite the opposite. It's just that the Academy is more likely to go with big names. Carmen Maura (Volver) might sneak in, but it's doubtful.
I know I've played it safe, and I've hedged my bets by providing an alternate for each category. Sigh. I'll be back later with my predix for best film and director; I might even have a look at the screenplay categories. Eek! I'd better get on it!
Peter O'Toole and Jodie Whittaker in Venus, Helen Mirren in The Queen; photos courtesy Miramax Films. The cast of Little Miss Sunshine, photo courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures. Rinko Kikuchi in Babel, photo courtesy Paramount Classics.