What if there were ten slots open for Best Picture and not enough entries to fill them? It’s a distinct possibilty.

From the poor reviews to the low boxoffice, it does seem, sadly, that Mira Nair’s “Amelia” is a scratch from Oscar consideration. With the movie may also go Hilary Swank’s chances at a third statue. I love Mira Nair’s movies. This is a disappointment. But she ‘ and Swank ‘ will be back.

At the same time, early word on “The Lovely Bones” from Peter Jackson is that it doesn’t quite work as a thriller. A possible Best Picture player, “Bones” may have an audience thanks to its large built-in following. But awards may be more elusive.

So far the only movies everyone can agree on as Best Picture candidates are Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” and Lee Daniels’s “Precious.” Beyond that, it’s all in the realm of subjectivity.

And now there’s a new player since the London Film Festival made a special citation for John Hillcoat’s “The Road“’ for its “breathtaking vision, extraordinary performances and profound political statement.” “The Road” is the sleeper film of 2009, with an Oscar level performance, as usual, from Viggo Mortensen.

Here are some actual possibilities: “An Education,” with Carey Mulligan (lead) and Peter Sarsgaard (supporting); Tom Ford’s breathtaking “A Single Man” with Colin Firth (lead) and Julianne Moore (supporting); “A Serious Man” from the Coen brothers; Helen Mirren (lead) in “The Last Station“; Christoph Waltz (supporting) and “Inglourious Basterds“; and maybe, quite possibly, “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Still to be seen, but highly anticipated: Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus” with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela; and Rob Marshall’s “Nine,” with Daniel Day-Lewis and a bevy of beauties including Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard.

There are some Oscar certainties, like the annual Woody Allen Best Supporting Actress. This year it’s Patricia Clarkson as the zany Southern mother in “Whatever Works.” Clarkson, long overdue, is a show stopper. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are still glowing from “Julie & Julia.”

And then there are the guys from Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker,” another Best Picture possibility. Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner are excellent. And Fred Melamed has to be nominated for “A Serious Man.” There’s no question about it. And if Mo’Nique will come to the Oscars if she just wises up a bit and drops her demands for moolah.

In the mix:

“Up in the Air”

“The Road”

“An Education”

“Where the Wild Things Are”


“A Single Man”

“The Last Station”

“A Serious Man”

“Inglourious Basterds”


“The Hurt Locker”

“The Lovely Bones”

The Young Victoria

“Sherlock Holmes”

“It’s Complicated”

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