sbullock Oscar Voters: Extra Time Could Change MindsHello Academy voters.

I can’t recall a time when the deadline for getting in those ballots with final votes was so far away! Today is Feb. 10. March 2, when ballots are due, is basically 20 days away. That’s like three weeks!

And time has a way of letting ideas chew themselves over. Like, how did “The Blind Side” and “District 9” wind up as best picture nominees? Is Sandra Bullock really the best actress, or just someone we like a lot?

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This year there are 10 best picture nominees. But let’s face it, when you rank them, really five are the best actual films. Those are: “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Precious,” “Up in the Air” and “An Education.” Well made, well crafted, each as good as anything from a previous best picture list.

Then there’s “Avatar.” No acting, no writing. No real editing, because “Avatar” is essentially a video-slash-cartoon. Its effects, especially the 3D, make it a spectacle. But best picture? Not exactly. The directors and producers guilds already decided that. Maybe it’s the best technological achievement on film. And the glasses were cool!

Front-runners are often harmed in Oscar voting when too much time lingers. Last year, “Slumdog Millionaire” was starting to wear on people. If there had been two more weeks before the ballot deadline, there could have been an upset. Voters start to watch errant DVDs, things they’ve passed up.

Last year, it was “The Reader.” Suddenly there was buzz. It was too late. But this year, hmmm. My guess is, a lot of people who never actually watched “The Hurt Locker” have finally popped it into a DVD player. Ditto “Basterds.” “Up in the Air” is probably getting its due at last.

Anything can happen. But one thing’s for certain: Three more weeks could turn the tide for any of them. Just listen for friends who say, “Gee, I never realized how good [blank] was. It really deserves it.”

And don’t forget: Actors vote for movies with actors, not ciphers, no matter what color they are.

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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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