When the Oscar nominees are announced Tuesday, you'll likely see a lot of familiar names and titles, from Jeff Bridges to Mo'Nique to "Avatar." But enough about them. Here are some of the long shots, dark horses and shoulda-been-contenders that went largely overlooked in 2009:
BEST PICTURE No matter what the Oscars tell you, "A Single Man" was the year's most thoughtful and moving film, anchored by Colin Firth playing a gay literature professor losing his will to live.
BEST ACTOR Speaking of Firth, he deserves this one. Not since Paul Giamatti in "Sideways" has an actor turned in such a thoroughly detailed, beautifully crafted performance.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR While Christoph Waltz will take this one - and rightly so - for playing the world's happiest Nazi in "Inglourious Basterds," a nomination at least should go to Alfred Molina, heartbreaking as a deceived father in "An Education."
BEST ACTRESS In the little-seen indie drama "Julia," Tilda Swinton was astounding as an alcoholic pulled into a nasty kidnapping scheme. This award ought to be hers, but the only Julia that Oscar voters care about is the one played by Meryl Streep.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Though she barely appeared in "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," Winona Ryder was hilarious as Robin Wright Penn's ultra-needy, semi-suicidal best friend - deserving of a nod, if not a statue.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE Pixar's "Up" is the biggest crowd-pleaser; Wes Anderson's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is the most sophisticated. But in terms of sheer craft, the statue should go to Henry Selick's elaborate stop-motion fantasy, "Coraline."