Cheat sheet of leading Oscar contenders

Wed Nov 24, 2010 1:47am EST
 
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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Who are the frontrunners in this year's best picture Oscar race? Here are some early contenders, but don't rule out the surprises yet to come.

ANOTHER YEAR (SONY PICTURES CLASSICS, OPENS DEC. 29)

Why it's a contender: The Academy frequently taps Mike Leigh's films for some kind of recognition, though he hasn't had a best picture nomination since 1996's "Secrets & Lies." A modest reception at the Cannes Film Festival might make "Another Year" a tough sell, but in a race with few actor-oriented films, this could make it to the final 10.

BLACK SWAN (FOX SEARCHLIGHT, OPENS DEC. 1)

Why it's a contender: Buzz began after "Black Swan's" Venice Film Festival premiere and it has only grown louder for director Darren Aronofsky's follow-up to "The Wrestler." Although the creepy psychological thriller might lean too dark for some Academy voters, Natalie Portman's performance will garner their attention.

THE FIGHTER (PARAMOUNT, OPENS DEC. 10)

Why it's a contender: Early viewers have said David O. Russell's boxing movie is a worthy successor to "Raging Bull," "Rocky" and "Million Dollar Baby." The film will be helped by star Mark Wahlberg's commitment to promoting the movie that he also produced.

HEREAFTER (WARNER BROS., IN THEATERS)

Why it's a contender: Clint Eastwood is arguably the most beloved filmmaker among Academy members, and his late-career resurgence makes each new film a must-see. A terrific tsunami scene and strong performances might make voters overlook an ending that has left many dissatisfied.   Continued...