Best Actress in a Motion Picture: Drama
Penelope Cruz - Volver
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Sherrybaby
Helen Mirren - The Queen
Kate Winslet - Little Children
If this were actually a race: Dench isn't exactly in racing shape, and Mirren's Queen would sooner die than break out the hustle for anyone. Cruz looks lithe enough, but Gyllenhaal's powered by the crank, so I'll give her the edge.
If this were actually a battle: It's not like I'd be crazy about messing with any of these women -- Cruz killed a guy and Maggie's got meth muscles or whatever and Dench is just plain diabolical, but thinking clearly, Mirren's got an entire nation's armed forces to go into battle with. Winslet's got, like, toddlers. No contest.
If this were an actual beauty pageant: Winslet looks like she's taken her usual appealing self and tarted it up for the suburbs, which certainly puts her into play. But I think Penelope Cruz and her padded ass probably trump her.
If this were a nationally televised popularity contest nominally based on acting merit: Helen Mirren, y'all. Place your bets.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture: Drama
Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed
Peter O'Toole - Venus
Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland
If this were actually a race: O'Toole's old and Whitaker's on the cherubic side, so they're out. The battle of Leo vs. Leo is interesting, and it looks like he does his fair share of running in both films. But Will Smith is running for fatherhood. That gives him the edge he needs.
If this were actually a battle: Whitaker's Idi Amin crushes all who stand in his way.
If this were an actual beauty pageant: Leo's rugged diamond smuggler is a good deal more appealing than his cracked-out and twitchy mob snitch, so: Leo in Blood Diamond.
If this were a nationally televised popularity contest nominally based on acting merit: This is maybe the toughest call of the night, but I'll go with my heart and say Forest Whitaker will win.
Best Actor in a Motion Picture: Comedy/Musical
Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat
Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Aaron Eckhart - Thank Your For Smoking
Chiwetel Ejiofor - Kinky Boots
Will Ferrell - Stranger Than Fiction
If this were actually a race: Well, Ejiofor's right out, because nobody's running well in heels. Cohen could probably put up a good time, but Depp did practically nothing but run in Pirates 2, which gives him the edge.
If this were actually a battle: Wow, not exactly a muscly bunch here, eh? Cohen's a twig, Depp's a fraidy cat, Ferrell's a sad sack, Ejiofor's...still wearing heels. Balance, people. Eckhart kind of takes it by default.
If this were an actual beauty pageant: Chalk another one up for Johnny Depp, even if he'd probably recoil at the very idea. He quit 21 Jump Street to get away from that kind of attention!
If this were a nationally televised popularity contest nominally based on acting merit: It's not really acting so much as a freakish performance art, but everyone gets to look cool for a second by voting for Borat, so Cohen should win this easily. Buckle up for an...elaborate speech, let's say.
Best Actress in a Motion Picture: Comedy/Musical
Annette Bening - Running With Scissors
Toni Collette - Little Miss Sunshine
Beyonce Knowles - Dreamgirls
Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada
Renee Zellweger - Miss Potter
If this were actually a race: I can't see grand dames like Bening or Streep racing anywhere, can you? No, give the edge here to Collette, who had a whole lot of training keeping up with that yellow VW bus.
If this were actually a battle: Renee's a twig, and Beyonce and Collette are ultimately too nice. Streep's icy cold Prada character is menacing, but Bening's the only one who could legitimately frighten me. Give it to her, before she hurts someone.
If this were an actual beauty pageant: Now it's Beyonce's time to shine!
If this were a nationally televised popularity contest nominally based on acting merit: Streep's the only one of the bunch who's gonna end up with an Oscar nomination, so that's usually a pretty good indicator.
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Ben Affleck - Hollywoodland
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson - The Departed
Brad Pitt - Babel
Mark Wahlberg - The Departed
If this were actually a race: Pitt and Wahlberg are the resident physical specimens, with Pitt looking like the more lithe and speedy of the two.
If this were actually a battle: Provided his Marky Mark muscles are still there, here's where Wahlberg makes up the difference/
If this were an actual beauty pageant: No one here is a dog, really. Even Jack seems to hold an appeal for young starlets and Diane Keaton. Pitt might be the favorite if it weren't for his painstakingly applied "weathered" look in Babel. Dude looks like he could use an avocado face mask or three. Which leaves the race open for the giant head of Affleck to prevail.
If this were a nationally televised popularity contest nominally based on acting merit: Everyone is saying Eddie Murphy, and maybe this is just another Tim Robbins situation where the fact that I don't get the appeal of the performance colors my predictions, but I say they'll give this one to Jack.
Best Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi - Babel
If this were actually a race: Kikuchi and Blanchett both seem to be in good shape for a race, and don't discount Barraza, who did a lot of intensive training in the desert for this. But the skittering and hummingbird-like speed on Emily Blunt wins the day here.
If this were actually a battle: I'm tempted to say Blunt again here, because girlfriend would fight so dirty. But ain't no scrapper like an Idol scrapper, so Hudson it is.
If this were an actual beauty pageant: Hey, if Cate Blanchett is hot enough for a fifteen-year-old student, she's good enough for the rest of us.
If this were a nationally televised popularity contest nominally based on acting merit: Jennifer Hudson, people. Get used to hearing her name called.
As for the other, non-actor categories, look for Best Picture wins for The Departed and