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The nominees: Memorable year leaves nine in line for glory

Eye on the Oscars 2013: Best Picture Preview

“Amour”
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Release date: Dec. 19
Running time: 2:05
Other nominations: Director, lead actress, original screenplay, foreign-language film
Why it might win: At once intimate and universal, “Amour” was deeply affecting in a way that is impossible to ignore.
Oscar clip: Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) realizes at breakfast the beginnings of the decline of Anne (Emmanuelle Riva).

 

“Argo”
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release date: Oct. 12
Running time: 2:00
Other nominations: Supporting actor, adapted screenplay, film editing, original score, sound editing, sound mixing
Why it might win: A stirring amalgam of crowd-pleasing thrills and historical substance, “Argo” appeals to both mainstream and higher-brow tastes.
Oscar clip: A tense walk by the would-be escapees through an Iranian public market yields both dark comedy and suspense.

 

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Release date: June 27
Running time: 1:31
Other nominations: Director, adapted screenplay
Why it might win: Passion has carried this project from its Sundance roots across the entire year to the precipice of Oscar glory. After that much time, it can’t be considered a fluke.
Oscar clip: Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) and her dad (Dwight Henry) exhort each other to a galvanizing rally of declaring “I’m the man!”

 

“Django Unchained”
Distributor: The Weinstein Co.
Release date: Dec. 25
Running time: 2:45
Other nominations: Supporting actor, original screenplay, cinematography, sound editing
Why it might win: “Django” is still getting its engines revved after a late release, and seems to be surviving the backlash against its racial risktaking.
Oscar clip: Don Johnson, Jonah Hill and even a hidden Quentin Tarantino struggle to navigate their ill-fitting Ku Klux Klan hoods.

 

“Les Miserables”
Distributor: Universal
Release date: Dec. 25
Running time: 2:37
Other nominations: Lead actor, supporting actress, costume design, makeup and hairstyling, original song, production design, sound mixing
Why it might win: There’s a reason the legit musical has been such an enduring hit, and plenty think this film adaptation captures all the passion and thematic resonance.
Oscar clip: With Anne Hathaway’s solo perfect for the supporting actress montage, let’s go with an ensemble showcase like “One Day More.”

 

“Life of Pi”
Distributor: Fox
Release date: Nov. 21
Running time: 2:06
Other nominations: Director, adapted screenplay, cinematography, film editing, original score, original song, production design, sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects
Why it might win: The film scores points for adapting a challenging book and doing so with philosophical and visual aplomb.
Oscar clip: “Life” wasn’t exactly just two hours of a kid sitting around with a virtual tiger. The shipwreck scene that launches Pi into his unique journey is one that deserves global exposure.

 

“Lincoln”
Distributor: Disney (Buena Vista)
Release date: Nov. 9
Running time: 2:25
Other nominations: Director, lead actor, supporting actor, supporting actress, adapted screenplay, cinematography, costume design, film editing, original score, production design, sound mixing
Why it might win: Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” thrived because it brought a critical moment in American history to life. “Lincoln” takes a different approach to the same period, but similarly succeeds.
Oscar clip: Would be fun to feature Tommy Lee Jones’ nighty-night scene, but form dictates something more along the lines of Lincoln’s latenight chat about Euclid and equality.

 

“Silver Linings Playbook”
Distributor: The Weinstein Co.
Release date: Nov. 16BR>Running time: 2:02
Other nominations: Director, lead actor, lead actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, adapted screenplay, film editing
Why it might win: Though it has its own brand of darkness, “Silver” was a knockout romp for much of its aud.
Oscar clip: Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiffany displays intricate understanding of all matters relevant to the Solitano family, football and otherwise, as she hashes out all the reasons why she’s not bad luck.

 

“Zero Dark Thirty”
Distributor: Sony
Release date: Dec. 19
Running time: 2:37
Other nominations: Lead actress, original screenplay, film editing, sound editing
Why it might win: Controversy or no, the insider’s depiction of the long trail to Osama bin Laden is riveting in both its loudest and quietest moments.
Oscar clip: It’d have to run on Oscars After Dark, but Jessica Chastain’s “I’m the motherfucker that found this place” as Maya marked 2012’s best use of profanity in film.

Returns to the Best Picture Preview 2013

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