The Contenders: A mix of quality pix headed for kudos races

Oscar night may be more than three months away, but awards season is in full swing. Screening lists are growing, special soirees are plentiful, and marketing mavens are frantic.

As always, titles jostling for the kudos limelight are abundant and varied — from quirky scribe’s tale “Adaptation,” to Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating “Gangs of New York,” Virginia Woolf-inspired “The Hours,” Polish Holocaust chronicle “The Pianist” and the second installment of fantasy epic “The Lord of the Rings.”

Despite the fact that many of the leading buzz pics have yet to open in theaters, we’re putting forward our Contenders: the films that look to have solid shots at nominations in at least two categories.

Our selection process isn’t scientific nor does it provide guarantees. The only thing we can be sure of is that there are bound to be surprises come Feb. 11, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences reveals its nominees.

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