I've narrowed my Best Picture chart to 15 (and flipped back to my September predictions --I briefly lost faith in Benjamin Button but it's returned) but since the studios have played a shell game with roughly 2/3rds of their presumed hopefuls waiting till December, we won't know much with any certainly until very late in the game. But for the first time I'm looking at my predicted five and thinking "this could TOTALLY happen". I can hear these five titles as a flash-forward January 22nd 2009 utterance... "And the nominees are: Australia, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire" ... can't you?
It's a plausible mix even if we still know too little. If enough of the November/December bids in the top 15 underperform (and some will) expect buzz for well regarded pre-Fall pictures like The Dark Knight, The Visitor or WALL•E to reignite. Plus there's always the outside chance that films like Rachel Getting Married, The Wrestler or Happy-Go-Lucky (all of which have goo-goo eyed fanbases) could fill an unloved vacuum if the more typically Oscar-Sized films don't endear themselves to enough voters. You have to win their hearts to top their ballots.
Updates Complete: Picture, Director, Foreign Film, Costume Design (new pics!), Screenplay, Sound Categories, Actor and Supporting Actor,