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DS: All great roles, but Heath Ledger has this one locked up. Some may claim that his unfortunate passing is reason enough to give it to him, but he had the strongest performance of any of the nominees and it would be shocking to me if he does not take it. For the same reason that people love the Pirates movies with Johnny Depp – take out Johnny and the movie doesn't have the same flair, and people loved The Dark Knight because of The Joker.
TM: Heath Ledger did what many thought was the unthinkable - he took Jack Nicholson's Joker incarnation and made it look as phony as the Cesar Romero version. He gave us The Joker that Batman comic book fans have been waiting for. Downey's just getting started, and while he and the other nominees are still able to make movies, the Academy will want to reward Ledger for his last completed film - as well as the potential he showed. And with the most popular film of the year being shut out of all the major categories, this will be the one visible place to acknowledge that.
MB: Hands down the most controversial category. Heath Ledger was fantastic, and although I agree with the Academy that The Dark Knight doesn’t deserve a Best Picture nod, Ledger’s performance deserves an Oscar. The Academy loves to hate blockbuster action films, so it’s entirely possible that Phillip Seymour Hoffman could pull this off. I could see some serious fan uprising if Heath Ledger doesn’t win this one. With all the Watchmen controversy happening right now, we may want to throw these guys a bone.
- Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
; Angelina Jolie – Changeling
; Melissa Leo – Frozen River
; Meryl Streep – Doubt
; Kate Winslet – The Reader
DS: The only movie that really, to me, had an interesting character was Doubt, and that's because of Meryl Streep. Everything else kept my brain waves flat. I like to think about characters decisions, and Doubt and Streep accomplished just that.
TM: Kate Winslet. She is an incredible actress who always gets snubbed for the flavor of the year. She's always the bridesmaid and never the bride at the Academy Awards. Kate will win this year due to a lack of competition and her past 5 nominations. A possible upset by Anne Hathaway, but the Academy is likely to reward Winslet for patiently waiting.
MB: I admit I didn't get to see these films, but it’s really down to Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet. Streep’s a better actress overall, so I’ll pick her. Streep has already brought home the SAG award for Best Actress, so that seems like a safe bet. Winslet has been a press darling lately, but most of Oprah’s fanbase aren’t Academy members.
DS: Mickey will win and I am not surprised about this. There is too much hype for him not to win, but Richard Jenkins' performance was so amazing, with a great story to complement it, I would be happy to see him take the win.
TM: Richard Jenkins is who I will be cheering for. This prolific character actor is one of my favorites. He has incredible range and no matter how small the part, he puts his mark on it. However, I think Mickey Rourke takes home the Oscar. The buzz this movie generated wasn’t from Darren Aronofsky’s direction, but Rourke’s acting. The man has a long and storied career, and has been able to shake the has-been persona to arise as a serious actor.
MB: Full disclosure: I’ve only seen two of these films and it’s still incredibly difficult to pick a winner. Mickey Rourke was amazing and was really the heart-and-soul of The Wrestler, but the screenplay wasn’t the same caliber that Brad Pitt got to work with in Button. While I am fully impressed with Rouke, Pitt should take the statue home. It's a tough call considering Mickey Rourke is getting a lot of respect in Hollywood these days because of his latest performance, and a lot of people would love to see him win, but I’m just not sure enough people saw the film to realize how great he was. Gonna have to go with Brad Pitt on this one.