A lot of Academy voters are probably going through their holiday mail today — and guess what — the Oscar ballot is here.

Some nominees seem like done deals. “Up in the Air,” “Precious,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglorious Basterds” and maybe “Invictus” or “Up” are the top likely choices. By now, a regular voter could rattle off that list of five without too much trouble.

But where to go from there? With 10 total Best Picture nominees, it’s the “back five” that will take a little more work and thought this year.

“Avatar,” for example, looks like the Big Studio shoo-in. It’s made a gazillion dollars. Even thought it has no acting nominations, a terrible script and a lot of CGI, “Avatar” will still take a nod. And the idea of James Cameron parading his ego around the Oscars is too tantalizing to pass up.

“Nine” would be next, if for nothing else, the glamour quotient. Without “Nine,” the Oscars could be a dreary affair. (Don’t forget– animated “Up” is great but produces no big stars on the red carpet.)

“Nine” also benefits from at least two or three performance nominations (Marion Cotillard in lead, Penelope Cruz in supporting, Daniel Day-Lewis in lead) and lots of craft noms too. Between SAG, Critics Choice and Golden Globes, “Nine” has momentum. (And if the show doesn’t feature Fergie singing “Be Italian” and Kate Hudson on “Cinema Italiano,” then we’re in for a long, long night.)

Three more? How about “An Education” — absolutely, with Carey Mulligan for best actress, too — and “A Single Man,” with nominations for Colin Firth and Julianne Moore.

One more nomination needed for the big show on March 7: Sandra Bullock, for “The Blind Side.” If we’re going popular this year, then a Bullock nomination is cool. Even Meryl Streep, this year’s fait accompli best actress, would agree.

The 10 nominees that can make this year’s show exciting: “”Up in the Air,” “Precious,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglorious Basterds,” “Invictus,” “Nine,” “Up,” “A Single Man,” “An Education” and “Avatar.”

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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