Dave Karger runs down the categories one by one, and is seeing True Grit as potentially the film to beat. Dave Karger is usually the one who does the early picks on EW and, as we all know, they are right at least three, but often four or five out of five. Here, he runs down the categories (smart of him since he is always being asked on Twitter about this contender or that).

About True Grit, Kris Tapley said he thinks it could Million Dollar Baby its way to a Best Picture win (with caveats). Based on the trailer, the subject matter and the fact that it’s the Coen brothers, it’s definitely possible. One thing I can say about The Social Network that no one else seems to be picking up on, though, is that it’s a major crowdpleaser that reminds me more of The Departed than anything else. Another thing to consider: almost every Best Pic winner in the past four or five years has been a film people thought was really great but couldn’t win Best Picture because it wasn’t “an Academy movie.”¬† The King’s Speech is also going to be a crowdpleaser.

Tapley also says there is no Hurt Locker this year. The thing is, by October, no one was really thinking about The Hurt Locker as being the big winner. This was also true about The Departed and No Country for Old Men. These movies weren’t sure bets until much later, after all of the other films released had failed to rise to the impossible expectations.

Will True Grit be Million Dollar Baby? Let’s take a stroll through Karger’s choices.

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Indiewire’s Peter Knegt takes a look back at the last few months and rolls the dice. ¬†His conclusion?

[quote]A few things that are looking quite certain as summer turns to fall:

-Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo will receive acting nominations for “The Kids Are All Right.”
-“The Kids Are All Right” will also be nominated for best original screenplay.
-“Inside Job” will be nominated for, and likely win, best documentary feature.
-“Toy Story 3” and “How To Train Your Dragon” will be nominated for best animated feature.
-“Toy Story 3” will also be nominated for best adapted screenplay.
-Randy Newman will receive his 19th Oscar nomination.
-“Inception” will receive at least six nominations, one of which will be best picture.[/quote]

He then runs down his safe bets, reasonable maybes and dark horses. He’s spot on, for the most part, and does a nice job summing things up. I too think that, at this point, Christopher Nolan seems like the strongest contender for a director nod. I would add Mike Leigh except that one just never knows what the fate of a movie will be, no matter how good it is.

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Cinematical’s Erik Childress has done another early Oscar article focusing on who’s here, who’s coming and what the Best Actor race might shape up to look like eventually, you know, if all goes well. As bloggers and critics sharpen their knives and their crystal balls for the upcoming Toronto, Telluride and Venice film fests, we’ll hear a word here or two about this or that performance. At some point, though, in the next few weeks we should have a much better idea about where the Best Actor Five will come from. Here is how Erik breaks it down:

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The Wrap’s Steve Pond runs down the predictions thus far. He does a good job, I think, of summing it all up and reminding his readers that there are still some big question marks left dangling. This is going to change within the next few weeks. Take a deep breath. We must once again invoke the great Iggy Pop who once said at a concert to his disgruntled fans, “it’ll all be over soon!” And then somebody threw a beer bottle at him.

Pond says:

With four months to go until the 82nd Academy Awards, can we really say with confidence that the Best Picture winner will be “Up in the Air” or “Precious” or “The Hurt Locker,” the acting winners Jeff Bridges, Carey Mulligan, Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique?

I hope not. I hope things come along to shock us all, to catch us pundits flat-footed, to throw the race into turmoil.

One of the hardest things about caring about the Oscar race is fighting the urge to get bored with the frontrunners. It’s a terrible affliction. No matter what year it is, no matter what films are nominated – we all get pretty sick of them too early on. That’s why it is so fun to cheer for not just the underdog but the least likely contender.

Kris Tapley thinks it’s never too early for Oscar predictions. Herewith, what he’s got for 2008:

[Motion Picture]
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Revolutionary Road”
“The Soloist”

David Fincher
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Ron Howard
Gus Van Sant
Sam Mendes
“Revolutionary Road”
Joe Wright
“The Soloist”

[Actor in a Leading Role]
Benicio Del Toro
“The Argentine”
Jamie Foxx
“The Soloist”
Frank Langella
Sean Penn
Brad Pitt
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

[Actress in a Leading Role]
Vera Farmiga
“Nothing But the Truth”
Angelina Jolie
Julianne Moore
Meryl Streep
Kate Winslet
“Revolutionary Road”

The rest.

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