It's apparent that the critics are all over Martin Scorsese. He won both the NYFCC and the Boston Film Critics Circle. This race is still between Scorsese and Clint Eastwood ("Letters from Iwo Jima"), but Paul Greengrass is making a late surge with a win in LA and several runners-up finishes. Stephen Frears ("The Queen") should get in as should Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls"). Pedro Almomdovar ("Volver") is well liked by the Academy so he could spoil someone's trip to big dance. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel") will also be in the mix.
Best Picture is boiling down, it seems, to three films: "The Departed," "Letters from Iwo Jima," and "The Queen." "Dreamgirls" is all but assured of the 4th spot, which leaves the fifth to following: "Babel," "Little Miss Sunshine," "United 93," "Notes on a Scandal," "Little Children," and perhaps "Blood Diamond."
Best Actor, honestly, is probably narrowed to Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland"), Ryan Gosling ("Half Nelson") and Will Smith ("The Pursuit of Happyness"). Peter O'Toole is assured of a nomination as is Leonardo DiCaprio for either "The Departed" or "Blood Diamond"), thus rounding this category out. (I am a believer that Sacha Baron Cohen ("Borat") will not get a nomination).
Best Actress is also settling itself nicely. Helen Mirren ("The Queen"), Judi Dench ("Notes on a Scandal"), Meryl Streep ("The Devil Wears Prada") and Penelope Criz ("Volver") all seems to be locks. The fifth spot will go to Kate Winslet ("Little Children") or Annette Bening ("Running with Scissors"). Beyonce Knowles ("Dreamgirls") could play the spoiler.
Best Supporting Actor and Actress are wide open. I can name at least 11 males and 14 females that are legitimate shots for a nomination. This will clear up a bit when the Golden Globe nominations are announced on December 14th.