This week there's so, so much going on that has absolutely nothing to do with the Oscar race, and it seems almost crazy to bring it up. There's the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, of course, which I'm witnessing in my own small way here in Brooklyn (though with power and running water and no damage to my friends or home, I'm exceptionally lucky). And there's the final days of the Presidential race, which will have me writing next week's column on pins and needles after I go vote at my local precinct-- and probably writing then about how it feels weird to be talking at all about the Oscars.

But there are a few things to talk about this week, starting with a brief post-mortem on Cloud Atlas, which opened last weekend and quickly got labeled with "flop" status, making just $9.6 million. That's not nearly enough to stave off the mixed reviews, and with the exception of a possible Best Makeup nod or visual effects, that's an Oscar campaign that is officially over-- though few people, even fans of the movie like me, thought it was much of a contender to begin with.

On the other hand Argo only bolstered its status over the weekend, taking the #1 spot for the first time in its run with $12 million, and steadily building up as a modest hit for grown-ups. The anecdotal evidence of my parents going to see it over the weekend suggests that word of mouth is keeping it not just alive but strong, and right now there's no stronger Best Picture hopeful out there.

Coming this week we've got two films whose names might be mentioned on Oscar night. The big one is Flight, which is a strong Best Actor candidate thanks to Denzel Washington's lead performance, and could also slip into the Best Picture race if it opens strong-- we'll talk more about that next week.. Washington showed up in a poncho on last night's hurricane-altered Letterman show, which could only help his cause. It also occurs to me this week that Kelly Reilly ought to be campaigned for Best Supporting Actress, an incredibly weak category where it wouldn't be difficult to slip in a new name. Reilly's storyline isn't the strongest thing about Flight, but she gives a solid performance and deserves at least a campaign from Paramount. Also opening this week is Wreck-It Ralph, a new animated comedy from Disney that, in a bizarre turn of events, seems to be a much likelier candidate for Best Animated Feature than the year's Pixar film, Brave. Who ever though they'd see that happen?

And now, on to the charts!

oscar winner prediction

I figured I wouldn't declare any Mortal Locks until November began, but it's October 30, so close enough. And truly, Argo is as strong a contender as you can imagine, with rave reviews and steadily building box office creed. It may get knocked down in stature by some of the contenders yet to come, but its nomination in this category is pretty much assured.



Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
The Impossible
Les Miserables
Moonrise Kingdom
Promised Land
Zero Dark Thirty

The Avengers
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Cloud Atlas
End of Watch
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Killing Them Softly
The Master
Not Fade Away
Rust and Bone
The Sessions
This Is 40

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