Well last night was fun, don't you think? There were lots of winners who were really deserving (Mickey Rourke, the Slumdog folks, a handful of TV people from shows I don't watch but are probably great) and a whole slew of great acceptance speeches, led by teary Brits Kate Winslet and Sally Hawkins. And while today is the day that Oscar ballots have to be back at the Academy, meaning no one had time to watch Sally Hawkins' acceptance speech and hastily pencil her in to their Best Actress five, there's definitely potential for these awards to affect the Oscars-- provided these winners actually make it into the nominees next week.

First of all, how about that double Winslet win? In the last few weeks it's seemed entirely possible for both of the actress's Oscar bids to founder, with The Reader's Supporting Actress campaign seeming just too fishy, and Revolutionary Road not gaining necessary traction for her to make it through a crowded Best Actress field. And the crazy thing is, it's still entirely possible that we'll wake up on January 22 and not hear Winslet's name anywhere-- like I said, it was too late for those Globe wins to guarantee her a spot in either category.

But if she makes it into both-- and I'm thinking she probably will-- there's all of a sudden a free-for-all where it previously seemed like a horse race between two other actresses. Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep tied for the Best Actress win at the Critics Choice Awards, which made both of them the frontrunners going into the Globes-- oops. Lets not forget Sally Hawkins, who is a critical darling and was such a delight at the Globes that, if she makes it into the five, she's a real contener. In the supporting category, Penelope Cruz had been sweeping critical awards, with Viola Davis and Marisa Tomei occasionally playing runners-up. I don't think anyone was taking Winslet's supporting bid this seriously until now.

It's clear that the Golden Globes liked The Reader and Revolutionary Road better than much of anyone else, and given that the guilds have snubbed both films, it's unlikely for either to show up as major Oscar nominees. Will that hurt Winslet's support, provided she makes it in for both bids? Or is the consensus coming around that it's just Winslet's turn, and it's time to pick which performance you like best? Suddenly this race is looking a whole lot more exciting.

And speaking of horse races, Mickey Rourke's win last night, and his wonderful acceptance speech, mean that the race has opened up once again to include him against Sean Penn. I was talking to some other people today who were suggesting that Clint Eastwood and Rourke might even be the frontrunners, or that Frank Langella could take it all. I still think it's between Rourke and Penn, and since it's a battle of two guys not known for being the nicest or friendliest, I think the guy who hasn't won an Oscar yet (that'd be Rourke) has the edge here.

As for the rest of the races, there were fewer surprises. Colin Farrell's win for In Bruges was great and all, but he won't be making the Oscar list. And Heath Ledger's win was expected, and will likely carry over to Oscar night. Other than that it was entirely the Slumdog show, a sweep that solidifies the movie as a frontrunner that really and truly probably can't be tangled with. Even if The Dark Knight shows up in Oscar's five next week-- which it probably will-- nothing combines the populist appeal and critical hosannas of this one. I reminded myself last night that, as of July, Slumdog Millionaire didn't have a distributor, and only became a frontrunner when people realized how good it was-- not because it had a studio plugging it as an automatic Oscar nominee (ahem, Frost/Nixon). It still feels weird that Slumdog has become the one movie from this year that anyone wants to reward, but I'm coming around to the notion that it's not the worst idea we've had in years.

There's one more piece of Oscar precursor news left, nominations from a guild that does almost as good a job as predicting the Oscars as the Director's Guild (so says Awards Daily). Handily, the American Cinema Editors selected the same five films as the directors-- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire. Just further evidence that, barring something really bizarre, those will be the five films we see nominated next Thursday.

It's going to be fairly quiet between now and then, actually, as the industry and most of the people who cover it (myself excluded) gear up for the Sundance Film Festival, and the monkeys who count Oscar ballots frantically figure out just who got nominated. Later this week I'll start posting my predictions for nominees-- last year I only did the big six, but this year I think I'll go whole hog and predict 'em all. Like I warned last year, don't take it too seriously-- I don't know any more than anyone else. But if I don't get into predicting, what's the fun in that?

The chart below has been edited to reflect Globe wins, and probably won't be retooled again until the nominees are announced. Time is flying! See y'all later.
ALREADY IN RELEASE
FILM
DATE
SYNOPSIS
WIN POTENTIAL
The Visitor
4/11
No one has mentioned Jenkins as a contender in a while, but the Best Actor field is still uncertain. It's possible for this vet to make it through after all.
Kung Fu Panda
6/6
Will probably be right next to Wall-E in the Best Animated Feature category, but it'll have to settle for bridesmaid there.
WALL-E
6/27
The Best Picture chances have probably ended, sadly. A screenplay nod is still possible to go with the inevitable Best Animated Feature win.
The Dark Knight
7/18
Looking increasingly likely as the fifth Best Picture nominee, but it's still vulnerable. Heath Ledger remains a lock, though, as do most technical awards..
Frozen River
8/1
Melissa Leo, the film's only hope, seems to be faltering in a crowded field. I wouldn't put much money on her at this point.
Tropic Thunder
8/13
Robert Downey Jr. shows up in nearly every Supporting Actor list, and seems increasingly likely to make it in for the big show. Wow. Score one more for summer movies with style.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
8/15
The Best Musical or Comedy win at the Globes solidifies the chances of an Original Screenplay win, but Picture is not happening. Penelope Cruz is probably still the leader in her category.
Rachel Getting Married
10/3
Anne Hathaway didn't win the Globe, but she's still very much in the running for Best Actress. The rest of the film might have to just root for her.
Happy-Go-Lucky
10/10
Sally Hawkins' beautiful Globes speech may make her a stronger Best Actress contender, provided she makes the top five. The screenplay is also possible for a nod.
Changeling
10/24
Angelina made it into the SAG nominees, suggesting an Oscar upset is possible. Is there anything we can do to stop this?
I've Loved You So Long
10/24
Kristin Scott Thomas has been shut out by critics, and needs a champion fast to stay competitive. The Best Actress race is more volatile than ever now.
Slumdog Millionaire
11/14
The Globes sweep solidifies it: Nothing can beat Slumdog Millionaire right now.
Milk
11/26
With Josh Brolin gaining on Ledger in the supporting race and Sean Penn cleaning up statues right and left, it will likely be on top next to Slumdog through the nominations. The Golden Globe snub will not hurt it.
Frost/Nixon
12/5
No one seems to love it, but everyone respects it enough to include it in most awards. The lack overwhelming love may hurt it at the Oscars, though.
The Class
12/12
The nomination for Best Foreign Language seems guaranteed, but a win? Who knows.
Doubt
12/12
A huge win with the SAG Awards increases the chance of all four actors here getting nods, and it could sneak into Best Picture too.
The Reader
12/12
Winslet's win at the Globes makes her a much, much stronger contender in the supporting category, but the rest of the movie may not show up at all.
Gran Torino
Dec. 12
Some people love the way Clint Eastwood growls his way through this movie; some people loathe it. But he's just universally beloved enough to sneak into that Best Actor race, damn him. The rest of the movie, though, forget it.
The Wrestler
12/19
Rourke is catching up on Penn thanks to the Globes win, and Tomei and Aronofsky remain competitive in their categories. And don't forget the Boss for Best Song!
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
12/19
It's the juggernaut that might threaten Slumdog, but the lack of strong acting contenders could hurt it. It's a lock for a nomination, though.
Revolutionary Road
12/25
Kate's Best Actress win at the Globes is likely a game changer in her category, but the film will still probably struggle elsewhere. It might be the best bet for a spoiler Best Picture nod, though.
Waltz With Bashir
12/25
A Best Foreign Language win at the Globes (a category it's not eligible for at the Oscars) might help its chances in Animation, but not enough to beat Wall-E.


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