Things just ain't the same.  At least, that's the mantra for studios attempting to play best picture game this year.  After two years of expanded play after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences increased the number of nominees from five to 10, the org made news by putting in a complex rule it sees as validating each nominee.  Instead of a guaranteed 10 nods, a film must qualify by receiving at least 5% of member first place votes.  The weighted system that previously allowed members to rank their top 10 (or five before that) will only be used if 10 potential nominees receive more than the 5% (or approximately 250) required votes. 

Got that?

The Academy also raised eyebrows by revealing that a study by its long time accounting firm revealed that if this system has been in place since 2001 there would have been years with 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 nominees, but never 10 (uh-oh).  This has brought as sense of nervousness to this year's proceedings as its clear no picture is truly a "safe" bet and members are going to have to be judicious on who they place at the top of their ballot.  It will lead to some anxious moments Oscar nomination morning on Jan. 25, but before anyone gets too stressed yet (breathe people, breathe) let's run down all of this year's potential nominees.

With 29 possibilities it's a wide list, but there are some pictures you just won't find there.  Such as...

 

"A Dangerous Method" - D.O.A. as a picture player after Venice and Toronto. 

"W.E" - turning the tide on this film's word of mouth is a box office priority, not an awards season one. 

Angelina Jolie's directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey" - we'll believe it when we see it. 

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" - CBS Films may qualify it to gain some attention in the Golden Globes musical and comedy category, but there is no way it makes the Oscar field

"The Rum Diary" - FilmDistrict and GK Films are just hoping to break even on this long awaited Johnny Depp drama. 

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" - 20th Century Fox's summer blockbuster is honestly just an Andy Serkis supporting actor and visual effects play at this point.

"Super 8" - J.J. Abrams homage to Spielberg-esque summer escapes will have to make due with its triple play-quality box office. 

"The Lady" - Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis reach for acting nominations.

"Beginners" - Huge fan, but not a player outside of the Spirit Awards. Christopher Plummer?  Fingers crossed.

What do you think of this year's contenders? Agree or disagree? Share your thoughts below.

Look for in-depth looks at all the major categories every week over the next two months on Awards Campaign and HitFix.

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