A look at the other contenders
Beyond our individually profiled contenders, there are a number of films that could grab a major category nod and/or some below-the-line categories. Among those with potential:
- Derek Luke’s powerful perf in Apartheid drama “Catch a Fire” could make him one of several potential African-American nominees in the actor category this year.
- Of course, B.O. juggernaut “Borat” could pop up somewhere, more likely for Golden Globes comedy categories, but perhaps the Acad will consider actor Sacha Baron Cohen and/or the original script.
- With the most Gotham Awards noms this year, indie and crix fave “Half Nelson” could also get noticed by Acad voters, particularly in actor (Ryan Gosling) and original screenplay categories.
- Meryl Streep’s “The Devil Wears Prada” popularity could rub off on another one of her 2006 pics, “A Prairie Home Companion,” from Oscar-honored helmer Robert Altman.
- Qualifying for more than just foreign-language slots by opening this year, both Germany’s “The Lives of Others” and Mexico’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” could contend in categories including script and director. Colorful Chinese entry “Curse of the Golden Flower” may get some crafts categories love.
- Well-reviewed satire “Thank You for Smoking” could be in the mix for Jason Reitman’s adapted script from Christopher Buckley’s novel.
- This year’s top-grossing docu “An Inconvenient Truth” could vie in an unlikely nonfiction category — for Melissa Etheridge’s title song.
- Another crix fave, actioner “Inside Man,” could get recognition for director Spike Lee, scripter Russell Gewirtz and d.p. Matthew Libatique.
- If December opener “Home of the Brave,” a topical tale of soldiers returning from Iraq from Oscar winner Irwin Winkler, strikes a chord with auds, thesps including Acad fave Samuel L. Jackson could benefit.
- If Nancy Meyer’s “The Holiday” catches fire with auds and crix, the comedy with frequently Oscar-nommed thesps (Kate Winslet, Jude Law) could draw some Acad interest, a la Meyer’s last pic, “Something’s Gotta Give.”
- Sumptuous set design and costuming in “Marie Antoinette” could propel Sofia Coppola’s Cannes Film Fest confection and Gotham Awards nominee into Oscarville.
- There are at least two epic December wild cards, Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” and Catherine Hardwicke’s “The Nativity Story.”
- And even awards season satire “For Your Consideration” could potentially invite kudos; Catherine O’Hara has garnered buzz for a supporting actress nod.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more