This has become a year-round pursuit, but November is when things become serious and THR's Martin Grove lays out all the possibilities. Several dozen features were considered contenders earlier in the year, but many of them have been shot down by critics or poor box office numbers or both. Among the stronger possibilities are "The Queen," "The Departed" (this could be the year Martin Scorsese finally gets a best director Oscar) and "Little Miss Sunshine." You can be sure Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" will be pushed, but the box office has been weak (and reviews are good but not great). There's also Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" and "United 93," which Universal has been DVD-ing to voters. Here's how Grove sums up the situation:
No matter how optimistic or pessimistic one is about what could happen between now and early January when Academy members must nominate five potential best pictures, it's clear that many pre-season assumptions that Hollywood handicappers made based on films' elements have not held up. Unfortunately, as films that looked like potential best picture contenders have opened this fall they've been shot down by critics and shunned by moviegoers. The result has got to be depressing for awards marketers whose high hopes for these titles are now in the deep freeze.