Joe Numaier, from The Daily News launched a special report with all the things you need to know about the upcoming Academy Awards on february 22nd.

The just-announced Oscar nominations can seem overwhelming to moviegoers who have just under a month to catch up. Which Kate Winslet film should you see first, “Revolutionary Road” or “The Reader”? Will the infectious sunniness of “Happy-Go-Lucky” be an antidote to the tense family scenes of “Rachel Getting Married”? Which is the tougher feel-good movie, “Slumdog Millionaire” or “The Wrestler”?

Ramping up to the Academy Awards on Feb. 22, here’s a cheat sheet about the major films and nominees announced Thursday.

Slumdog Millionaire

What you should know going in: This Bollywood drama about an unlikely champ on the Indian version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” is rough going before its heartwarming ending.

What the nomination means: The old Oscar notion that movies must fit a certain profile to get noticed is gone.

What the win would mean: Change has come to the Academy, and a new worldview is here. Call it the Obama effect.

Chance of winning: No need to phone a friend: This may well be the final answer.

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

What you should know going in: It’s long (almost three hours), it’s weird (old-looking kid becomes young-looking old man, all played by Brad Pitt) and it’s emotionaly remote.

What the nomination means: Quirkiness can get Oscar love as long as it has a silver lining.

What the win would mean: Hollywood really wanted a “Forrest Gump II.” This will have to do.

Chance of winning: Very possible — but it has to get the Academy’s youth vote.


What you should know going in: There’s as much psychological set-up as edge-of-your-seat sit-down in this dramatization of TV personality David Frost’s 1977 interview with former President Richard Nixon.

What the nomination means: Hollywood’s son Ron Howard successfully brought a stage hit — and Frank Langella’s mesmerizing performance as Tricky Dick — to the screen.

What the win would mean: Great acting and a strong pedigree can result in a landslide.

Chance of winning: Despite a lot of affection for it, this movie is probably not a crook — don’t look for it to steal Best Picture.


What you should know going in: As a portrait of slain San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay politician, director Gus Van Sant’s drama safely follows the usual bio-pic rules.

What the nomination means: The movie is good, but its just-by-chance timing — released within weeks of the defeat of California’s Proposition 8, which would have allowed for gay marriage — was perfect.

What the win would mean: The engaging, haunting title turn by Sean Penn, plus solid support from co-stars Josh Brolin and James Franco, swayed the Academy’s biggest voting bloc: the actors.

Chance of winning: Got “Milk”? Alas, probably not at the podium.

“The Reader”

What you should know going in: The first half is “Last Tango”-style sex-as-escape; the second half centers on “Judgment at Nuremberg”-ish trial drama.

What the nomination means: A few films could have gotten this fifth spot, but this one had word of mouth going for it.

What the win would mean: Appreciation for adapting a challenging novel.

Chance of winning: That word of mouth almost became controversy (Winslet’s character is 35, the boy is 15; a shades-of-gray moral view), which could doom it.

Heath Ledger

Best Supporting Actor, “The Dark Knight”

What you should know going in: This is the first comic book villain to actually send chills down your spine.

What the nomination means: Ledger becomes the seventh actor to get a posthumous nod.

What the win would mean: Ledger would be the second to get one posthumously, after Peter Finch’s win for 1976’s “Network,” and the first to win for a supporting role.

Chance of winning: There could be twists, but this seems as sure as they get.

Mickey Rourke

Best Actor, “The Wrestler.”

What you should know going in: The pretty boy of 25 years ago is gone. In his place is a guy who gives a performance full of heart and guts.

What the nomination means: Comebacks are catnip for Oscar.

What the win would mean: If Hollywood can forgive “Wild Orchid,” they can forgive anything.

Chance of winning: No faking: Rourke could body-slam Penn and Langella.

Josh Brolin

Best Supporting Actor, “Milk.”

What you should know going in: Though he looks squeaky-clean, Brolin’s Dan White is as ugly as Harvey Milk is sweet.

What the nomination means: A thanks for this role, for “W.,” and for last year’s Best Picture, “No Country For Old Men.”

What the win would mean: “That was a pretty chilling glimpse into the banality of evil. Also, we always liked your dad.”

Chance of winning: If there’s a backlash against Ledger, Brolin and the well-respected “Milk” could be the beneficiary.

Meryl Streep

Best Actress, “Doubt.”

What you should know going in: Forget the frothy “Mamma Mia!” Streep’s Mother Superior is so stern she’d ground the Flying Nun.

What the nomination means: Meryl’s already the most-nominated performer in history, now up to 15 nods. But three of them were in the Supporting Actress slot; this one ties her Best Actress noms with Katharine Hepburn, who had 12 nominations.

What the win would mean: She’d have a total of three statuettes to practice her accents in front of (her other wins were Best Supporting Actress for 1979’s “Kramer Vs. Kramer,” and Best Actress for 1983’s “Sophie’s Choice.”)

Chance of winning: Never doubt Streep.

Anne Hathaway

Best Actress, “Rachel Getting Married.”

What you should know going in: There’s a lot of music, and a lot of angst, in this comedy-drama. She provides the latter.

What the nomination means: The one cast member not nominated for “Brokeback Mountain” is finally taken seriously.

What the win would mean: Beauty + crazy = Oscar bait.

Chance of winning: Anne and Oscar likely won’t be getting hitched — this’ll be Winslet’s princess night, as long as Streep doesn’t crack a ruler on her knuckles.

Kate Winslet

Best Actress, “The Reader.”

What you should know going in: The former Nazi guard she plays is painted somewhat sympathetically, never as a clear black-and-white villainess.

What the nominations mean: There’s the “Holocaust movie” cliche, but her Best Actress nod for this instead of “Revolutionary Road” may be because it’s felt she shared “Road” with Leo DiCaprio.

What the win would mean: She could play Mussolini, it would still be her time.

Chance of winning: After five previous noms (and losses), Winslet wins.