Last year, I averaged .600. What partially threw me off were a few "what the hell?!" nods (like those four for CITY OF GOD). So, keeping that in mind...

Million Dollar Baby
The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Hotel Rwanda

Also considered CLOSER and RAY, but neither film's reviews are saying much about anything except the acting. The first four are a lock, the fifth is gaining momentum fast (although not nearly as rapidly as Eastwood's film).

Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)
Alexander Payne (Sideways)
Martin Scorsese (The Aviator)
Marc Forster (Finding Neverland)
Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

Typically, four out of the five Best Picture nominees also get director nods. Since ETERNAL SUNSHINE is so well-liked among the cognoscenti (though it's still too weird for Best Picture ), I think Gondry will get the wild card spot over Mike Nichols.

Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator)
Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda)
Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)

Jamie, Paul and Clint are inarguable. Like his film, Don's gaining momentum and so is Leo after his Golden Globe win. I know, I know, where's Johnny Depp for FINDING NEVERLAND? Long considered a front-runner since his face was plastered on ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY'S Fall Movie Preview issue, I just don't think people are that dazzled by his performance here. In a less competitive year, you'd see Javier Bardem (THE SEA INSIDE) and Liam Neeson (KINSEY) on this list.

Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake)
Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby)
Annette Bening (Being Julia)
Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace)

I cannot think of any other likely contenders. Can you? In a perfect world, Julie Delpy (BEFORE SUNSET) would be there instead of Annette Bening.

Thomas Haden Church (Sideways)
Clive Owen (Closer)
Jamie Foxx (Collateral)
Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby)
Peter Sarsgaard (Kinsey)

Because I don't think Depp will make it, then his young co-star Freddie Highmore won't either. The only other one I'm waffling on is Peter Sarsgaard, who certainly deserves it more than anyone else, but he could be too risky a choice for the Academy.

Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
Laura Linney (Kinsey)
Cate Blanchett (The Aviator)
Natalie Portman (Closer)
Meryl Streep (The Manchurian Candidate)

It could come down to Streep or Sophie Okenedo (HOTEL RWANDA) for the fifth slot. My gut instinct is for Streep, who was almost as good as Angela Lansbury in the original.