Here, for what it’s worth, are my 2009 Oscar predictions in the six major categories:

Best Picture:

Will Win: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Should Win: “Frost/Nixon”
Common consensus is that Sunday night will belong to the Little Movie That Could from India, but for my nerdy journalistic sensibilities, the best movie of the year was Ron Howard’s engaging adaptation of “Frost/Nixon.”

Best Director:

Will Win: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Should Win: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
The British director’s crafting of this Indian fairytale into the feel-good movie of the year makes him the favorite, and deservedly so.

Best Actor:

Will Win: Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
Should Win: Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
The Academy loves a comeback, and Mickey Rourke certainly seems to have reinvented himself with his utterly sacrificial turn in “The Wrestler.” Keep an eye on Sean Penn though, who might emerge as a dark horse victor for voters who might use their ballot to make a political statement in light of Proposition 8’s passing in November.

Best Actress:

Will Win: Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Should Win: Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Backlash against “The Reader” and, in turn, Winslet’s performance has been building ever since it surged ahead of (presumably) “The Dark Knight” and “Wall-E” to nab a Best Picture nomination. Behind “Frost/Nixon” it was my second favorite movie of the year. Between this and her un-nominated performance in “Revolutionary Road” Winslet cemented herself as the best actress working today.

Best Supporting Actor:

Will Win: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Should Win: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Even setting aside the tragedy of his untimely death as a factor in this race, Ledger’s performance is undeniably the standout of the bunch. It’s inconceivable that the Academy would give the award to anyone else. Our condolences, Michael Shannon!

Best Supporting Actress:

Will Win: Viola Davis, “Doubt”
Should Win: ????
Penelope Cruz seems to be the favorite here for her turn in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” which I can’t comment on, not having seen the film. But the Academy always reserves it’s WTF vote for one of the supporting categories (see: Alan Arkin, Tilda Swinton), and since Heath Ledger is the closest thing this year to a lock, you can bet this race will end up being a crap shoot. My reasoning is that if voters thought enough of Davis’s 15 minutes of screentime to reward her with a nomination, there’s no reason she can’t take home the prize.

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