Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/ Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Lipton Says: The most difficult category, of course, because there are two obvious candidates, Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn, both eminently deserving of the accolade. And, of course, each of them brings an intriguing narrative to his candidacy: Sean's portrayal of Harvey Milk marks yet another startling departure for one of the eminent character actors of our time; while Mickey's searing portrait in and of The Wrestler brings the theme of redemption to both the character and the actor. Two powerful performances, regrettably, only one winner. I think redemption will win the day.
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, The Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, The Reader
Lipton Says: In an election process that factors in many elements that should be extraneous, I suspect that Meryl's many nominations and wins will militate against her. In sum, the balance will probably swing in Kate's favor. Winslet wins, but both are deserving.
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr, Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Lipton Says: My heart is decidedly with Josh Brolin, but a living Heath Ledger would probably have swept all before him, and his tragic death makes his triumph all but certain.
Amy Adams, Doubt
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Lipton Says: An interesting category because, in my view, the two leading candidates are Viola Davis and Penelope Cruz, one for an unforgettable tragic scene, the other for a hilarious comedic turn. A flip of the coin, but I think comedy (in Woody's best movie in years) takes the gold.
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant, Milk
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Lipton Says: Oh Danny Boyle! An Oscar for matching Slumdog's vivid imagination with his own.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Lipton Says: Slumdog Millionaire goes off (like fireworks) in so many unexpected, unprecedented directions that it ought to get an Oscar for Innovation. It will have to settle for Best Picture. I think that in any other year, Milk would have won for its own daring conviction.