Best Actress, Best Picture, and Best Adapted and Original Screenplays coming soon. Here are my picks for Best Actor.
Who Will Win: Sean Penn, Milk
After Prop 8, the Academy will give itself a pat on the back for handing the Oscar to Penn for playing gay, iconic politician Harvey Milk. Penn is mesmerizing. This is work again not to be ignored.
Who Should Win: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
I haven't seen such vigor, sadness, and flawlessness in a performance in a long time. Rourke's leading turn in "The Wrestler," which is quickly becoming the most underrated film of the year, is the best performance in recent memory, easily one of the best of the decade. Rourke may pull an upset (!), but I doubt it. But do yourself a favor, and see this.
The other nominees (I wasn't huge generally on any of these three, but it's been a while since I've seen them):
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Jenkins, a character actor no one pays much attention to, does a pretty good performance. He plays a depressed professor who returns to his NYC apartment to a couple living inside of it. He also did a very funny turn in "Burn After Reading" to solidify himself as a double entertainer in 2008 (EW approved).
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Langella plays Nixon pretty well, but doesn't deserve a nomination. It's a nice performance that adds a little to a very weak effort about the interviews between the two title characters. It's better than Michael Sheen as Frost, at least.
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
If there was nomination in 2008 less deserved than Pitt as Button, I'd like to see it. Pitt (actually assisted by six other actors) slumps through a leading man job where he flexes no acting muscles. He'll never return to the same mindset as in the 90's, where he chose good roles ("Twelve Monkeys," "Fight Club").