With nominations for critical predictors like the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes announced, Oscar fans are closer than ever to being able to guess which movies will earn nominations for the all-important Best Picture Oscar prize this year. Some contenders' chances have dropped as their buzz has faded, and others' stars have risen as they've earned SAG and Golden Globe nominations that may give them a better chance in the race. Remember, the Academy can choose to nominate between five and 10 movies for the top prize. Here are 8 that currently stand the best chance.
By Molly Driscoll,
Staff Writer, CSMonitor
(AXcess News) - 1. 'Argo'
Director Ben Affleck's drama centering on the CIA mission to get six American diplomats out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Drama by the Golden Globes and earned a nod for Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture (the closest equivalent to Best Picture at the SAG Awards) from the Screen Actors Guild.
2. 'Les Misérables'
Because of the Golden Globes' separation of films into the Drama and Musical or Comedy categories, "Les Mis" is nominated alongside a couple of unlikely fellow contenders such as "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen." But the film by previous Best Director winner Tom Hooper about Parisians caught up in a revolution is considered almost a sure thing to take its Globes category, and it's earned a SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture.
3. 'Zero Dark Thirty'
The controversial film by previous Best Director winner Kathryn Bigelow, detailing the hunt for Osama bin Laden, was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama by the Golden Globes and, while it missed a nod for Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture from the Screen Actors Guild, its chances for a Best Picture nomination are still considered strong.
4. 'Life of Pi'
Previous Best Director winner Ang Lee's story of a boy who gets shipwrecked and must survive on a raft with a tiger was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama by the Globes. It didn't snag a nod for Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture from the Screen Actors Guild - perhaps not surprising, considering the film's cast is so small - but that shouldn't hurt the movie's chances overall.
The story of our sixteenth president fighting to abolish slavery, which was directed by previous Best Director winner Steven Spielberg, got the Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture nomination for the SAG Awards and was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama by the Golden Globes.
6. 'Silver Linings Playbook'
Previous Best Director nominee David O. Russell's tale of a man recently out of a mental health facility who meets an unusual widow was nominated for Best Musical or Comedy by the Golden Globes and got the SAG's Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture nod.
7. 'Django Unchained'
Previous Best Director nominee Quentin Tarantino's story of a man fighting to free his wife from a sadistic slave owner made some wonder if Tarantino's film might be too over-the-top for the Academy. But two of his previous films, "Inglourious Basterds" and "Pulp Fiction," earned Best Picture nominations, and "Django" is doing fairly well so far with a Best Motion Picture – Drama nod from the Golden Globes.
8. 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'
The film by previous Best Director nominee John Madden about a group of senior citizens traveling to a hotel in India was well-reviewed but not expected to be an awards season contender. In addition, some comedies that wouldn't otherwise make the cut can get Golden Globe nods for Best Picture - Comedy or Musical, so "Marigold"'s nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for the Golden Globes could have been expected. But it also received a nod for Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture from the Screen Actors Guild, and the combination may help the underdog get a Best Picture Oscar nomination.