Now that we are getting into December, the Awards Race begins to take a clearer shape. Every year, around this time, top critical organizations begin to recognize the best in cinema, and when we start to hear the same titles repeated by various film groups, we in the media can start to determine frontrunners, as well as also-rans.

To that end, recent wins for Damien Chazelle's La La Land and Barry Jenkins' Moonlight from the top critics' groups in New York and Los Angeles helped propel those movies into Frontrunner categories in several top races. As was pointed out, Jenkins has claimed a Best Director trophy from pretty much every group that has tried to hand one out, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review. Can one of these films peak too soon? That has happened in the past, where backlash against a presumed "Winner" settled in, prompting Academy voters to push their weight behind another film. There's still a LOT of time to go, with a few more shoes to drop before this competition is squared away.

The Critics' Choice Awards happen much earlier this year, airing on Sunday, December 11 instead of their usual January slot. That could give some valuable momentum to one of the following movies, or take some air out of a tentative campaign or two. For the moment, here's where I think everyone stands:

Natalie Portman Jackie

Best Picture

The Frontrunners

La La Land

Manchester By The Sea

Moonlight

The Contenders

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

Jackie

Lion

Loving

Patriots Day

Sully

The Dark Horses

20th Century Women

The Founder

Nocturnal Animals

Silence

The Longshots

Allied

The Birth of a Nation

Live By Night

A Monster Calls

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