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The 10 Best Picture nominees: my early guesses

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Today my very early stab at guessing the 10 Best Picture nominees has been posted as part of Movie City News’ Gurus o’ Gold feature. There seems to be some consensus among the 14 of us Oscar predictors as to seven of the eventual nominees. After that it’s pretty much a field day of shot-in-the-dark prognostication. Here is my estimated list of 10 (ranked by probability of making the cut next January) with my reasoning for including each film. We’ll see how wrong I am in just a matter of months!

1. The King’s Speech As soon as I saw this British drama in early September I knew it had the potential to go all the way in at least one major category. Right now its star, Colin Firth, is the man to beat for Best Actor, and it’s an absolute lock for a Best Picture nomination as well.

2. True Grit Four of the 14 “Gurus” have the Coen brothers’ upcoming Western ranked first or second on their ballots. And no, none of us have actually seen it. This one is pure hunch on my part. Though strong trailers don’t always turn into great movies (I’m looking at you, Invictus.)

3. The Social Network The Facebook movie boasts the second-highest tally of No. 1 votes (behind The King’s Speech). After this week’s fantastic hold at the box office, it’s even more of a sure thing.

4. Inception There’s got to be one live-action blockbuster in there, and none has a better shot than Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending smash.

5. How Do You Know? Here’s the one case where I’m apparently the most alone in my thinking, as no other participant has the film on his or her list. But I have faith in the upcoming Reese Witherspoon romantic company based on writer/director James L. Brooks’ selected track record (Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment) and the positive buzz I’ve been hearing about costar Paul Rudd’s performance. Here’s hoping it’s not another Spanglish.

6. The Kids Are All Right The summer indie might not have sold out many theaters in the middle of the country, but on the coasts (where Oscar voters mainly live, of course) it was an unfettered hit.

7. Toy Story 3 Expect a lot of Lord of the Rings comparisons in the coming weeks. That trilogy did end up picking up a Best Picture trophy, but it was live-action. Still, there’s no denying Pixar’s latest achievement (the highest-grossing animated film of all time, by the way).

8. 127 Hours Here’s where the predictions start getting a little less sure-footed. Danny Boyle’s follow-up to Slumdog Millionaire impressed critics and audiences at Telluride and Toronto. But is the film too claustrophobic to go the distance?

9. Hereafter I totally fell for Clint Eastwood’s afterlife drama when I saw it at the Toronto film festival. Many critics are not fans. But I still feel like Eastwood’s ambitious work could be up the Academy’s alley.

10. Love and Other Drugs The Jake Gyllenhaal/Anne Hathaway comedic drama reminds me a lot of Up in the Air and Jerry Maguire (both past Best Picture nominees). And it’s perhaps the sexiest movie I’ve seen in years. It won’t be for everyone, but if most critics go for its blend of titillation and tragedy, then it’s a contender for one of the five “B-list slots.”

So what am I leaving out? Black Swan (probably a better shot at Best Actress)? Blue Valentine (my personal favorite, but likely too dark)? All arguments are encouraged. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for ongoing Oscar updates.