OSCAR PREDICTION CHARTS — December 8, 2008

NUTSHELL: As “Defiance” begins to pick up steam on the guild screening circuit, Paramount Vantage might be looking at a Sophie’s Choice before long. Edward Zwick’s film has always been the more Academy-friendly of their offerings this season, and maybe that’s becoming clearer as we move further into the season. For now, it really looks like no more than six contenders in the Best Picture race and an all out war between “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Slumdog Millionaire” for top honors come February. Of course, with all that blood-letting, might a certain Caped Crusader be waiting to pounce with the surprise win of surprise wins?

Column: “Finding a happy place”

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BEST PICTURE
1 “Slumdog Millionaire”
Fox Searchlight Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures
2 “Milk”
Focus Features
3 “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Paramount Pictures
4 “Frost/Nixon”
Universal Pictures
5 “The Dark Knight”
Warner Bros. Pictures
6 “Revolutionary Road”
Paramount Vantage
7 “Defiance”
Paramount Vantage
up
8 “The Wrestler”
Fox Searchlight Pictures
up
9 “Doubt”
Miramax Films
NEW
10 “Australia”
20th Century Fox
down

DIRECTING
1 Danny Boyle
“Slumdog Millionaire”
2 Gus Van Sant
“Milk”
3 David Fincher
“The Curious case of Benjamin Button”
4 Christopher Nolan
“The Dark Knight”
5 Darren Aronofsky
“The Wrestler”
6 Ron Howard
“Frost/Nixon”
7 Sam Mendes
“Revolutionary Road”
8 Edward Zwick
“Defiance”
up
9 John Patrick Shanley
“Doubt”
NEW
10 Clint Eastwood
“Gran Torino” (or “Changeling”)
NEW

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
1 Sean Penn
“Milk”
2 Mickey Rourke
“The Wrestler”
3 Frank Langella
“Frost/Nixon”
4 Clint Eastwood
“Gran Torino”
up
5 Leonardo DiCaprio
“Revolutionary Road”
down
6 Josh Brolin
“W.”
7 Brad Pitt
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
up
8 Richard Jenkins
“The Visitor”
down
9 Benicio Del Toro
“Che”
10 Will Smith
“Seven Pounds”

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
1 Cate Blanchett
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
2 Kate Winslet
“Revolutionary Road”
3 Meryl Streep
“Doubt” (or “Mamma Mia!”)
4 Anne Hathaway
“Rachel Getting Married”
5 Kristin Scott Thomas
“I’ve Loved You So Long”
6 Angelina Jolie
“Changling”
7 Sally Hawkins
“Happy-Go-Lucky”
8 Kate Beckinsale
“Nothing But the Truth”
9 Melissa Leo
“Frozen River”
10 Michelle Williams
“Wendy and Lucy”

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
1 Heath Ledger
“The Dark Knight”
2 Philip Seymour Hoffman
“Doubt”
3 Josh Brolin
“Milk”
up
4 Michael Shannon
“Revolutionary Road”
5 Dev Patel
“Slumdog Millionaire”
down
6 Robert Downey Jr.
“Tropic Thunder”
7 James Franco
“Milk”
8 Eddie Marsan
“Happy-Go-Lucky”
9 Bill Irwin
“Rachel Getting Married”
10 Liev Schrieber
“Defiance”

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
1 Penélope Cruz
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
2 Taraji P. Henson
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
3 Viola Davis
“Doubt”
4 Rosemarie DeWitt
“Rachel Getting Married”
5 Marisa Tomei
“The Wrestler”
6 Kate Winslet
“The Reader”
7 Kathy Bates
“Revolutionary Road”
8 Amy Adams
“Doubt”
9 Hiam Abbas
“The Visitor”
10 Elsa Zylberstein
“I’ve Loved You So Long”

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
1 “Slumdog Millionaire”
Written by Simon Beaufoy
Based on the book “Q&A” by Vikas Swarup
up
2 “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Written by Eric Roth; Screen Story by Eric Roth, Robin Swicord
Based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald
down
3 “Revolutionary Road”
Written by Justin Haythe
Based on the short story by Richard Yates
4 “Frost/Nixon”
Written by Peter Morgan
Based on his play
5 “The Dark Knight”
Written by Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Story by David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan
Based on characters created by Bob Kane
6 “Doubt”
Written by John Patrick Shanley
Based on his play
7 “Gomorrah”
Written by Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Gianni Di Gregorio, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudiso, Roberto Saviano
Based on the book by Roberto Saviano
7 “The Reader”
Written by David Hare
Based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink
9 “The Class”
Written by François Bégaudeau, Robin Campillo, Laurent Cantet
Based on the book by François Bégaudeau
10 “Defiance”
Written by Clay Frohman, Edward Zwick
Based on the book by Nechama Tec

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
1 “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Written by Woody Allen
2 “Rachel Getting Married”
Written by Jenny Lumet
3 “Milk”
Written by Dustin Lance Black
4 “The Visitor”
Written by Thomas McCarthy
5 “The Wrestler”
Written by Robert Siegel
up
6 “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Written by Mike Leigh
down
7 “WALL-E”
Original story by Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton
Screenplay by Jim Reardon, Andrew Stanton
NEW
8 “Seven Pounds”
Written by Grant Nieporte
down
9 “I’ve Loved You So Long”
Written by Philippe Claudel
down
10 “Changeling”
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
down

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
1 “WALL-E”
Walt Disney Pictures
2 “Kung Fu Panda”
DreamWorks SKG
3 “Waltz with Bashir”
Sony Pictures Classics
4 “Bolt”
Walt Disney Pictures
5 “Horton Hears a Who!”
20th Century Fox
6 “The Tale of Despereaux”
Universal Pictures
7 “Igor”
The Weinstein Company
8 “Space Chimps”
20th Century Fox
9 “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”
DreamWorks SKG
10 “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”
Warner Bros. Pictures