Along with "Benjamin Button" and "Frost/Nixon," "Doubt" picked up five Golden Globe nominations, including one for Streep's performance. It opens Dec. 12 in limited release.
Gus Van Sant's epic about 1970s gay rights leader Harvey Milk has been at the top of critics' lists since Sean Penn was picked to play the lead role. It picked up three key awards from the New York Film Critics Circle: best film, best actor and best supporting actor for Josh Brolin, Penn's co-star. It opened in limited release in late November.
Though critical reception has been mixed, with a cast led by Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes, "The Reader" has the stuff to peak the academy's interest. Set in post-WWII Germany, the drama centers on a law student who reunites with a former lover years after their affair mysteriously ended, when she defends herself in a war-crimes trial.
"The Reader" scored a Golden Globe nomination for best drama and was named one of the Top 10 films of the year by the Broadcast Film Critics Association. It opened Dec. 10 in limited release.
Just as "The Wrestler" tells the story of a veteran professional fighter trying to claw his way back up to the top of the heap, the movie is being hailed as the comeback of veteran actor Mickey Rourke. Rourke plays wrestler Randy "The Ram" Robinson, who's elbowing his way back into the ring with the support of his stripper girlfriend, played by Marisa Tomei.
Rourke scored a Golden Globe nomination for his performance and the movie won the Golden Lion Award for Best Film when it premiered at the 2008 Venice Film Festival. "The Wrestler" opens in limited release Dec. 17.
Clint Eastwood masterminded "Gran Torino" both behind and in front of the camera, directing and starring in the drama about a racist Korean War veteran who catches an Asian boy trying to steal his prized 1972 Gran Torino automobile.
Eastwood's performance picked up an award from the National Board of Review, but instead of his acting and directing skills, another one of his talents might be recognized by the academy. He's nominated for a Golden Globe for co-writing the title song for "Gran Torino"; it wouldn't be a surprise if the song got him an Oscar nod too. "Gran Torino" opens in limited release Dec. 12.
And Two Not-So-New Films Likely to Run in the Oscar Race:
'The Dark Knight'
Superhero blockbusters aren't usually the type of films for which the academy flips, but there's a perfect storm of reasons for why "The Dark Knight" will probably show up on the list of Oscar nominees come Jan. 22.
Heath Ledger's final, chilling performance as the Joker has had critics talking for months; it would only be natural for him to pick up a posthumous nomination -- he's already nominated for a best supporting actor Golden Globe. "The Dark Knight" also stands to score Oscar recognition for its makeup and musical score.
Disney-Pixar's latest collaboration may be the pair's most critically acclaimed one yet. "Wall-E," about the epic space journey of a small, waste-collecting robot, won over audiences during the summer. Now it's winning awards.
Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named "Wall-E" the year's best movie. It's the first time the organization has awarded that honor to an animated movie. "Wall-E" also made the National Board of Review's list of Top 10 films of the year.