OWN RIVAL: Never a slouch, 78-year-old Clint Eastwood is releasing two movies this year, “Changeling” and “Gran Torino.” Will it be a replay of 2006 when Eastwood battled Eastwood with “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima”?
SUBLIMINAL MAN: Yes, Eastwood has two films in the running, but is he using a hidden message to give “Changeling” an extra push? It includes a scene with Angelina Jolie listening to an Oscars radio broadcast.
DARK DAYS: Academy to fans: “It’s a comic-book movie!” About 100 million fans to the academy: “Why so serious?”
AT BASE CAMP
SICK BEDS: It’s a Hollywood epidemic: Movie stars are risking life and limb this season. Will Smith, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Kate Winslet may be in poor health when their movies end, but could be they’ll be in fighting shape for awards.
W. VS. M.: In a battle of unpopular presidents, Josh Brolin’s admirable turn as George W. Bush in “W.” might not hold up once Frank Langella’s uncanny Richard M. Nixon in “Frost/Nixon” hits theaters.
LOOKING FOR A SHERPA
LONG FIGHT: There is no denying the explosive power of Benicio Del Toro’s performance as Ernesto Guevara in Steven Soderbergh’s two-part “Che.” Whether the film’s low-key style and four-plus-hours running time will alienate awards voters is another matter.
TOO RELEVANT? Economic hard times, illegal immigration, racism. Will academy voters be too cool to a movie so depressingly close to current events to give “Frozen River’s” Misty Upham and Melissa Leo a chance to thaw them out?
BLACK LISTED: The trailer for “Milk” ends with a title card for writer Dustin Lance Black that fills the entire screen. Either Focus Features is confident in the impending profile of this relatively unknown writer or someone has an agent working overtime.