In a year of tough races, it's nice to have a few categories whith a strong leader. Let's talk Best Actor.
Daniel Day-Lewis is the immediate standout this year, for There Will Be Blood - his pushy oilman is really a tour-de-force and is definitely strong enough to earn him a second win. His nearest competitor might be Viggo Mortensen, in Eastern Promises, just because of the physical demands of the role and the challenging accent. Conversley, George Clooney pretty much played George Clooney in Michael Clayton. Tommy Lee Jones pulled in a surprise nomination for In The Valley of Elah, but Academy support is nearly nonexistant for that film. Still, Jones's unnominated work in No Country For Old Men might bolster his chances. Johnny Depp is enjoying his third nomination (his first for a Tim Burton film), but despite doing his own singing, Depp's chances are slim. I think audiences will see the artifice around the role (costumes, makeup, music) and not the performance itself. Still, despite his pechant for odd acting choices and roles, Depp is gaining momentum and good will with each nomination. So, my pick goes to Day-Lewis. I can't even conceive of who would upset his win.