1. Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds (lock)
2. Woody Harrelson - The Messenger (probable)
3. Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones (probable)
4. Matt Damon - Invictus (shaky)
5. Anthony Mackie - The Hurt Locker (wild card)
Christopher Plummer - The Last Station, Alfred Molina - An Education, Christian McKay - Me and Orson Welles
This is the most volatile of all the acting categories. Outside of Christoph Waltz, who should be writing his acceptance speech, no one is a guarantee. Woody Harrelson is likely to make it, but no one seems to be talking about The Messenger anymore. Stanley Tucci is likely to make it, but the general consensus is that his film is terrible. Matt Damon is possible, but how much do they like Invictus? And finally, here's where I've decided to get crazy and make the wild card prediction of Anthony Mackie. He's gotten no precursor love, very true. But The Hurt Locker is a giant at this point, not to be ignored. It's either passionately loved or at least respected by most. I don't see how this film garners so many nominations and doesn't sweep Mackie along for the ride, especially when you take the alternates into account. There's Christopher Plummer, who's been perennially ignored by the Academy for his entire career. Why start now, and for a film nobody saw? Alfred Molina would have more of a shot if An Education hadn't evaporated. And Christian McKay seemed to be here one day and gone the next. Call it wishful thinking (mostly because it is), but I feel like Mackie might just make it.