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Dr. Oscar's Academy Award Nomination Predictions: Best Picture

And Dr. Oscar's Predicted Academy Award Nominees Are...

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“Frost/Nixon”

“Milk”

“Slumdog Millionaire”

“The Dark Knight” may have been left out of the top races at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, but it will likely be recognized by the Academy. Historically, those rare films which have combined strong critical reaction with enormous box office success have gone on to earn best picture nods, including “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “E.T.,” “The Fugitive,” “Titanic,” and “The Sixth Sense.”

“The Dark Knight” will also benefit from strong support from the technical branches. In addition to expected nominations for director and supporting actor, you can count on citations for film editing, cinematography, sound mixing and score, and perhaps art direction, sound editing, visual effects and make-up. All that support adds up to a best picture contender.

I am including “Milk” on my list, though I have warned some of my fellow pundits of its vulnerabilities. For one thing, it’s not likely to get recognized outside of the core acting, writing and directing categories. Films with no technical support can still get nominated for the top prize (“Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine” have done it in recent years,) but it’s more difficult.

Also, while films about important people have generally done well in securing best picture nods (“The Queen,” “Capote,” “Ray,” “Gandhi”), “Milk” is about a city hall supervisor – someone whose place in history probably seems less significant. I still think that the critically lauded film will make the top five, but I won’t be terribly surprised if it doesn’t.

If there’s another film to make the list, it will most likely be “Revolutionary Road,” a film which possesses superb acting and directing along with beautiful editing and a haunting score. If it wasn’t quite so depressing it would be a lock for a nomination.

Other films which have been mentioned as possibilities for the best picture category – “Doubt,” “The Reader,” “WALL-E” – are long shots at best.

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