Selling points: It won Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Director and scored nominations from BAFTA, the Directors Guild, Producers Guild, and Writers Guild. Oh, and it’s the all-time box office champ.
Drawbacks: It has no guild-award wins so far, and its script isn’t nearly as mesmerizing as its 3-D effects.Does it deserve to be a nominee?
THE HURT LOCKER
Selling points: It’s the strongest Brit contender of the year, thanks in part to its SAG-nominated cast, including Carey Mulligan, Alfred Molina, Peter Sarsgaard, and Emma Thompson. It made BAFTA’s Best Picture list, which only included five slots, and earned a Producers Guild nod.
Drawbacks: It’s a tiny film; if an indie has a shot at the win, it’s The Hurt Locker.Does it deserve to be a nominee?
Selling points: It boasts a Producers Guild nomination and a legion of cultish fans devoted to its amazing visuals and intelligent futuristic vision.
Drawbacks: It’s still an alien movie, which may be a hurdle for voters in Oscar’s big category. And many of its supporters may like Avatar better.Does it deserve to be a nominee?
THE BLIND SIDE
Selling points: Its lead performance by Sandra Bullock is the Best Actress frontrunner, it was the smash hit of the holiday season, and with its moving end credits sequence, it leaves viewers on an emotional high note.
Drawbacks: Up until Oscar nominations day, the movie itself hadn’t received much love from the guilds or critics groups. Is it really in the same league as The Hurt Locker?Does it deserve to be a nominee?
Selling points: It’s one of only three films (along with The Hurt Locker and Precious) to score the trifecta of SAG, DGA, and PGA nominations. Plus it won the SAG award for Best Ensemble.
Drawbacks: It got muscled out of the BAFTA Best Picture race; is it too edgy to win?Does it deserve to be a nominee?
Selling points: It swept the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals and got an avalanche of positive press when it opened in November. Nominations from SAG, DGA, PGA, and WGA followed.
Drawbacks: Yes, it’s been nominated for every big pre-Oscar prize, but it hasn’t actually won any. Did it peak too soon?Does it deserve to be a nominee?
UP IN THE AIR
Selling points: It scored the most acting nominations of any film this year (with three). But its PGA, DGA, and WGA nominations mean voters love it for more than just its stars.
Drawbacks: Despite its plethora of Globe, BFCA, and SAG nominations, it’s only managed to win a couple adapted screenplay prizes. Is that its Oscar destiny as well?Does it deserve to be a nominee?
A SERIOUS MAN
Selling points: The Coen brothers mined their own childhoods to fashion their most personal film, never straying from their singularly wacky sense of humor. The Writers Guild honored them with an original-screenplay nomination.
Drawbacks: It petered out with $9 million at the box office and failed to earn DGA or PGA nods. In other words, it just barely earned this Oscar nod.Does it deserve to be a nominee?
Selling points: It’s the first animated film to reach the big dance since 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. And with its ridiculously beautiful opening sequence, it deserves it.
Drawbacks: Voters are already going to check it off for Best Animated Feature; won’t they want to spread the wealth?Does it deserve to be a nominee?