Dave Karger
December 12, 2008 AT 10:14 PM EST

No fewer than six films with some kind of Oscar chances (ranging from the tightest of locks to darkest of dark horses) hit theaters this week. Here’s how Doubt, Gran Torino, The Reader, What Doesn’t Kill You, Che, and Wendy and Lucy might fare with the Academy.


Best bets

Best Actress, Meryl Streep
Not every critic has been impressed, but Streep’s forceful performance as the intimidating Sister Aloyisius will definitely lead to her 15th career nomination.

Best Supporting Actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman
All signs point to a nod…and a rematch between him and Heath Ledger for the win.

Best Supporting Actress, Viola Davis
Her shocking two scenes serve as the centerpiece of the film. She’s simply unforgettable.

Best Adapted Screenplay, John Patrick Shanley
If he can win a Pulitzer, he should easily get an Oscar nod.


Best Picture
Four acting nominations at the Golden Globes but no Best Picture love; could the HFPA have foreshadowed a similar result at the Oscars?

Best Supporting Actress, Amy Adams
You need No. 1 votes to score an Oscar nod. Adams does a fine job as the naive Sister James, but Doubt fans are more likely to rank Davis at the top of their ballots.

Long shot

Best Director, John Patrick Shanley
Shanley’s direction has taken the most hits from the critics, who argue his work lacks subtlety. Even if the film ekes out a Best Picture nod, he’s likely to be left out.


Best bet

Best Actor, Clint Eastwood
I’m still shocked that he didn’t make the Globes’ list yesterday. I’m sure the Academy will give him either Brad Pitt’s or Leonardo DiCaprio’s slot.


Best Picture
Even fans of Eastwood’s performance admit the movie contains some bad acting and cliched moments. But never underestimate the power of Eastwood when it comes to the Academy.

Best Director, Clint Eastwood
Changeling‘s strong showing so far may actually hurt his chances here, since one film doesn’t seem to be outshining the other.

Best Original Screenplay, Nick Schenk
The category has five other tough competitors (Wall-E, Rachel Getting Married, Milk, The Visitor, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Can newcomer Schenk squeeze one of them out?

Long shot

Best Original Song, “Gran Torino”
Eastwood and his son Kyle nabbed a Globe nod for their ditty that plays over the credits. Does it have enough prominence in the film to make the Academy cut?


Best Bets

Best Supporting Actress, Kate Winslet
The first half of her depressing one-two punch (Revolutionary Road follows in two weeks) is a master class in how to make an unsympathetic character relatable.

Best Adapted Screenplay, David Hare
When it comes to bringing prestigious source material to the screen (see The Hours), he’s simply one of the best.


Best Picture
Four big Globe nominations gave it a much-needed shot in the arm. Could mixed reviews and tough competition from other serious dramas kill its chances?

Best Director, Stephen Daldry
He’s been Oscar-nominated for his first two features (Billy Elliot and The Hours). The likes of David Fincher and Danny Boyle would love to end that streak.

Best Original Score, Nico Muhly
The 27-year-old Philip Glass protege has created a spare piano-based soundtrack that adds to the film’s unsettling feel.


Long shots

Best Actor, Mark Ruffalo
Ruffalo and the film are earning respectful reviews for bringing a sense of humanity to the true story of a South Boston criminal.

Best Supporting Actor, Ethan Hawke
If it weren’t so similar to his role in last year’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Hawke’s arresting turn as a young thug would be gaining more traction.


Long shot

Best Actor, Benicio Del Toro
He won the Best Actor prize at Cannes this year, but will voters really sit through all four hours of his biopic?


Long shot

Best Actress, Michelle Williams
The Brokeback Mountain costar gives an impressively controlled performance as a young woman relying on strangers for help when her car breaks down in an unfamiliar Oregon town. But quiet turns like hers rarely get the Academy’s attention.

addCredit(“Streep: Andrew Schwartz; Eastwood: Anthony Michael Rivetti; Winslet: Melinda Sue Gordon”)

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