Alejandro Inarritu

This year, the nominees are world-class

The 2007 Oscar ballot has been rightly hailed for its diversity. So it might seem like a paradox that the closest thing to a sure shot is about as white Anglo-Saxon Protestant as you can get: Dame Helen Mirren, the prohibitive favorite to win best actress for playing Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. Even the other dame in the running, Judi Dench for Notes of a Scandal, has conceded the position.

This year's entries generally remind us that the Academy Awards, at their best, have saluted an aristocracy of merit. The difference now is that the nominees in all categories finally echo the ethnic and racial makeup of the global population.

The multiple nominations for three films...