Certainties: All of them.
Surprises: None. Not one. All of these are strong Oscar contenders for Best Picture, and Academy voters have expressed passion for each of them. The one slight question mark is Django. Too violent for squeamish Oscar voters? Inglorious Basterds wasn’t. If reviews are strong, and the box-office is as powerful as expected when it opens on Dec. 25, it should have a clear path to the Academy nominations on Jan. 10.
Snubs: The Master. Paul Thomas Anderson’s enigmatic drama about an apparent charlatan, his moonshine-addict acolyte, and the new-age religion they are founding in post-WWII America seemed like a sure-thing this year, but audiences didn’t turn out, a few key critics (such as Roger Ebert) shrugged, and more and more Academy members have left it off their list of favorites. Also overlooked: The blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, the soon-to-be blockbuster The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and the indie darling Beasts of the Southern Wild, which could have used the push. The tsunami survival story The Impossible — one of my favorites of the year — also doesn’t seem to have much traction.
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