If there is any slam dunk this year in the race for Best Picture nominees it's "Nine." Now, I know it sounds silly to make this proclamation on September 2 exactly five months from they actual nominees are announced, but seriously, the chances of Rob Marshall's big screen musical not getting nominated are almost nil. The film would have to be a complete disaster for it not to make the top ten.  It's just that simple.

Partially it's because even if the Oscars were using the now defunct five nominees system, this would be shaping up to be one of the weakest Best Picture candidate pools in quite awhile.  It's not because there were a lot of bad movies this year or are stinkers upcoming, there just aren't a lot of great films that will resonate with the Academy membership.  Blame it on the writer's strike 18 months ago, blame it on luck, blame it on bad filmmaking, but it is what it is.  So, when you have ten nominees (which in theory is a great idea in any other year) that just means the quality bar gets lowered a bit. This will no doubt be one of the growing storylines after this weekend's Telluride and Venice Film Festivals and the Toronto Film Festival next week and the media start to dwell on the current pool of contenders.

On the other hand, whether it's a classic movie musical like "Chicago" or not, "Nine" is a player because of one thing: it's got major star power.  Having seen audiences gasp and begin to chatter upon seeing the trailer for the first time (really), the movie will be an event because names such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson, Sophia Loren and Fergie (OK, maybe not Fergie) all grace the screen together.

The story?  Eh, an Italian filmmaker (Day-Lewis) waxes over the women in his life while finding trying to find peace with his creative process and its based on a Tony Award winning musical that intern was based on Federico Fellini's "8 1/2." But does it even matter?  It's stars on parade in big musical numbers.  That's gonna sell the tickets and make moviegoers happy (or so everyone at Relativity and the Weinstein Company hope).

"Nine" currently opens nationwide on Nov. 25, but the Weinstein Company just released two new stills from the film -- including one of a Cruz in lingerie (shocker!) you can view below.  Along with the embedded trailer, take your fill of "Nine" for the moment and ponder if there is any scenario it won't get nominated.

And then make that bet in Vegas over the Labor Day weekend that it will.

Penelope Cruz in 'Nine'


Daniel Day-Lewis in 'Nine'