It's not even October and the pronouncements around this year's Oscar race are already flying fast and furious.  Speaking to a publicist at a non-competing studio late last week, this pundit was told the Academy was basically out of touch if it didn't award "The Social Network" the Best Picture statue as it's "the most important movie of the year."  Of course, this respected professional hasn't seen most of the other competitors (a bit of a problem), the picture hasn't even screened for most Academy members and Mark Zuckerberg hasn't been taken off suicide watch yet (seriously, we kid), but that's the sort of passion that's already being generated by David Fincher's latest.

As we rank this year's best picture contenders for the first time this season, the best picture race would seem to be a dogfight just between "The King's Speech" and "Social Network."  Except, that's really not the case.  The campaign has quite a long way to go with nods not even being announced until Jan. 27, 2011.  Flashback 12 months ago and the Oscar race was perceived by many to be between "Precious," "The Hurt Locker" and "Nine."  "Avatar" had been written off after a disastrous tease at 2009 Comic-Con a few months before.  So, as this prognosticator has intended to be.  We won't get into outlandish pronouncements until at least…November.

Sept. 27, 2010

1. "The King's Speech"
That Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award isn't a joke.  This film will play and play very, very well.

2. "The Social Network"
A very, very strong film about an age old story.  And it's going to do more than O.K. at the box office too.

3. "Inception"

A nod, "shouldn't" be an issue, but WB is really going to have to campaign this one hard if they want to seriously be in contention to win.

4. "Toy Story 3"
The Oscar world would turn upside down if it won.  And competing consultants around town would cry.  Literally, cry.

5. "True Grit"
Yeah, yeah, no one's seen it, but right now it's still in the game.  Coen + Bridges + Damon + Rudin = contender. 'Nuff said.

6. "127 Hours"
Ignore the moviegoers who passed out in Telluride.  This one moves people and the younger members of the Academy are going to embrace it big time.

7. "Rabbit Hole"
Depending on how fast Lionsgate can pull together a campaign, it's an underdog contender for the top prize.  You'll see.

8. "Another Year"
Sure, Mike Leigh just told off the established institutions of Film Festivals and Oscar, but that won't stop his fans from rewarding another strong effort from the filmmaking legend.

9. "The Kids Are All Right"
Sadly, not a lock.  Focus is going to have to seriously push this one to make sure its in.  Thankfully they are old pros at this game and it won't hurt that they have three actors (Moore, Bening, Ruffalo) who are major players in their individual races.

10. "Black Swan"
It's a big fight for the final slot.  Right now, "Swan" is a confirmed critic's winner.  Every other potential player is sight unseen which gives it an edge.

11. "The Fighter"
Trailer works, but will the picture?  

12. "Hereafter"

Reaction out of Toronto was mixed.  What will the NYFF say?  Is it a real Academy player?

13. "Somewhere"

Venice Film Festival win turned the buzz around, but questions remain if it's a Best PIcture player.  Worth noting though: Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood and this one qualifies.

14. "The Town"
Critic's went a tad overboard for a three-star movie, but the box office could be a huge boost.  And if the DVD is out before the Christmas break?  Watch out.

15. "Get Low"
$8 million in limited release isn't much in old school campaigning, but the picture certainly has a following.  This could be a screener underdog.

Wildcards: "Biutiful," "How To Train Your Dragons," "Shutter Island," "Made in Dangenham," "How Do You Know," "Love and Other Drugs," "Winter's Bone," "The Ghost Writer," "Let Me In," "Blue Valentine"

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