Though Oscar nominations won’t be announced until Feb. 13, handicapping is already in high gear. Here’s the early line, as distilled from conversations with veteran Oscars watchers, on who and what will make the first cut:
Best Picture: Kevin Costner’s Indian love song, Dances with Wolves, is proving as popular among Academy viewers as it has been with audiences at large. Martin Scorsese’s mob scene, GoodFellas, is being touted by the critics. Penny Marshall’s medical drama, Awakenings, plays like a prescription for prizes. And Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part III, though its flaws are hotly debated, still is majestic enough to snag statuettes. Vying for the fifth nomination are Reversal of Fortune, Avalon, Hamlet, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, Presumed Innocent, The Russia House, and a real long shot, Ghost.
Best actor: Robert De Niro and Robin Williams (Awakenings) and Al Pacino (Godfather) lead the field, followed by Jeremy Irons (Fortune), Gérard Depardieu (Cyrano de Bergerac), Kevin Costner (Dances), Sean Connery (Russia), and Paul Newman (Bridge).
Best actress: Joanne Woodward (Bridge) and Angelica Huston (The Grifters) are early favorites. Michelle Pfeiffer (Russia), Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman), and Kathy Bates (Misery) all look like surefire contenders, while Meryl Streep (Postcards from the Edge) and The Long Walk Home‘s Sissy Spacek and Whoopi Goldberg could conceivably squeak in.