December 02, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

Oscar talk has already started — it’s never too early — and much of it targets Pulp Fiction. While Quentin Tarantino‘s mondo-crime movie has grossed $48 million, resurrected the career of John Travolta, and made the director a household name, it’s exactly the kind of gonzo movie that the staid Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just doesn’t get. Can Pulp go the distance? Here’s the conventional wisdom. SURE THINGS: Travolta is a Best Actor favorite, joining Tom Hanks for Forrest Gump, and the seven-time-nominated Paul Newman, who stars in the upcoming Nobody’s Fool.

RISKY BUSINESS: It would be hard to ignore Tarantino for a Best Director nomination; then again, the directors’ branch is sometimes slow to embrace new talent (the Academy failed to give Spike Lee a nod for Malcolm X). And considering how competitive the supporting-acting categories will be, prospects are equally cloudy for Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, and Uma Thurman.

LONG SHOTS: Although Pulp is likely to top many critics’ 10-best lists, a Best Picture nod seems iffy. ”I don’t see it having any possibility,” predicts one campaigner. ”I can’t convince older members of the Academy to see it, because it’s regarded as too violent.”Aware that it faces a tricky selling job, Miramax has gotten the jump on the competition by offering early screenings to Academy members. It also plans to send out videos in late December. ”We hope the Academy will recognize that it’s an important piece of pop history,” says a Miramax insider, ”not just something made by a guy who used to work in a video store.”

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