This year isn’t done yet, which was proven this past week by a sudden change in the Best Picture race. A couple of dark horses are starting to emerge, throwing some people’s previous predictions of the winners out the window. At this rate we’re uncertain as to what the field may look like, but boy is it fun to watch. 

First let’s get into the one movie that suddenly everybody’s talking about. Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty. Ever since the first screenings people have been raving about Jessica Chastain, solidifying her as the front runner in the Best Actress race, but that’s not the only thing the heavy drama has going for it. Kathryn Bigelow could be heading towards Oscar number two due to her work on the picture. And does anybody remember that one Ben Affleck movie Argo? You know, it came out a couple of months ago, everybody was hailing it to be a certified Best Picture winner? Those days are long gone thanks to Zero Dark Thirty. The movie about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden blew past its competition, making it the front runner for Best Picture. It’s not like Argo isn’t going to be nominated, and don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, but it’s chances of winning have greatly diminished within the past week and a half.

Now let’s get into who more than likely will be nominated for the Best Picture category. We already know that Argo and Zero Dark Thirty are shoe-ins for a couple of nomination spots, but what else is there? David O. Russell has had good luck with the Academy a couple of years ago for The Fighter and has been garnering a good amount of attention for Silver Linings Playbook. Don’t be surprised when you see that on the list. There’s also Beasts of the Southern Wild, the Sundance picture that’s been getting promoted heavily by their distributor Fox Searchlight. Could it get a Best Picture nomination? No doubt about it. The same goes for Life of Pi, Lincoln, Les Misérables and Django Unchained. There’s also room for FlightAnna Karenina or maybe Cloud Atlas if the Academy nominates up to ten films. Now before you start laughing at the suggestion, hear us out.

Now could Cloud Atlas be nominated? Let’s put aside the silly Time Magazine list that came out yesterday, deeming the picture to be the worst of the year. Actually, we’re quite happy that Time came out with that list. Why? Because it got critics nationwide thinking about the reasons as to why they not-so-secretly like or even adore the movie so much. While Cloud Atlas received critically mixed reviews, it still made an impression on most movie-goers. It’s a powerful film dealing with loss, redemption, hope and all of the experiences that makes humanity so incredible. And yes, it has a much higher chance of getting nominated for Best Picture than The Dark Knight Rises. No fanboys/fangirls, we don’t agree with you in thinking it should be nominated for anything other than technical awards. If there were one Batman picture that should have been nominated it would’ve been The Dark Knight, not the unimpressive condensed final chapter that is the third movie.

Now let’s get into the New York Film Critics Circle Awards which took place this past Monday. Many regular movie-goers take the these awards for granted, since they aren’t a major awards ceremony like the Oscars or even the Independent Spirit Awards. But you should be paying attention to the major cities’ award winners, because it gives you a general consensus not only over who could be nominated but who will more than likely win the major Oscar categories in a couple of months time. Zero Dark Thirty ran away with Best Picture, Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow and even Best Cinematography. Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his amazing work in Lincoln while Rachel Weisz sneaked out of nowhere, nabbing Best Actress for her performance in The Deep Blue Sea. Now there’s something to chew on, a sudden dark horse popping out of nowhere like Rachel Weisz. For all we know she could pull a huge upset, toppling over Jessica Chastain for Best Actress in other critic circles. We’ve still got a couple of weeks left until the end of the year. At this point, anything is possible.

And let us not forget that the National Board of Review announced their winners earlier today. Kathryn Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty reigned supreme, walking away with three major awards. The biggest surprise out of these award winners is Silver Linings Playbook which went home with Best Actor (Bradley Cooper) and Best Adapted Screenplay (David O. Russell). Quvenzhané Wallis took with her the Best Breakthrough Actress, which means it’ll probably be a neck-and-neck race between her and Chastain for Best Actress. If we can put it into race horse terms, we may be seeing a photo finish on these two when the Oscars come around.

There’s still a couple more movies that are coming out in the next couple of weeks that could still change the race. No, we’re not referring to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journeysince it’s more or less being critically slammed, but let us not forget Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti western revenge tale Django Unchained. Either way, this is the most wonderful time of the year to be going to the movies.

What do you hope might sneak in to the best picture race?