It's big stars versus character actors this year. Are Tom Cruise, Sean Penn and Kevin Spacey getting free rides to the Oscars based on their past performances rather than the strength of their new movies? Is it possible that we'll have a list of five nominees of color, or that most of the men on the list won't be American? Anything's possible.
The likeliest five: Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries), Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ), Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator), Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Other top contenders: Kevin Bacon (The Woodsman), Javier Bardem (The Sea Inside), Tom Cruise (Collateral), Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland), Liam Neeson (Kinsey), Al Pacino (The Merchant of Venice), Sean Penn (The Assassination of Richard Nixon), Kevin Spacey (Beyond the Sea)
Last year's winner: Sean Penn (Mystic River)