Mt. Oscar: To grab the brass ring -- or in this case the Golden O -- wrap yourself in raves and pack lots of buzz. This week's altitude readings are by Rachel Abramowitz, John Horn, Elena Howe, Susan King, Mark Olsen and Tom O'Neil.
EMPTY LIVES: Five-time Oscar nominee Kate Winslet is riveting in "Revolutionary Road." But taken with her "Little Children" role, she may be in danger of specializing in unfulfilled suburbanites.
WOOFING IT UP: In "Gran Torino," Clint Eastwood's widowed character lives alone with his dog, so, naturally, there is much growling in the movie. Did we mention the growls are from Clint?
BIGGEST SMACKDOWN? Try the bar fight that is the adapted screenplay contest, which so far looks to include "Benjamin Button," "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Revolutionary Road."
AT BASE CAMP
SONG AND DANCE: Beyond its Oscar push for "Wall-E," Disney's heavy emphasis on family films leaves its live-action cupboards bare. The only such movie it can push for consideration: "High School Musical 3: Senior Year."
PICTURE PERFECT: At a recent industry screening of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," the audience whooped it up in agreement when Cate Blanchett tells Brad Pitt he looks "perfect."
LOOKING FOR A SHERPA
NEVER SAY DIE? James Bond may always come out a winner but none of the films' celebrated songs has ever won an Oscar. So should Jack White and Alicia Keys still worry about an acceptance speech for "Quantum of Solace's" "Another Way to Die"?
FATIGUE: World War II does not appear to be an Oscar charmer this year. Both "Defiance" and "Valkyrie" have underwhelmed early audiences.
ABOVE AND BEYOND: Italy's foreign language Oscar entry, "Gomorrah," is an inside look at that country's modern-day crime families. The writer of the book that the film is based on, Roberto Saviano, now lives under constant police protection.