This week saw the two first awards ceremonies of the season, which mostly split the good between films, with the Gotham awards giving a prize to the Coen BrothersInside Llewyn Davis, while the New York Film Critics Circle went heavy on David O. Russell‘s American Hustle.

This week was also important as all the major contestants are now out there. Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street and Hustle have now started screening, and — as to be expected — reactions are all over the place. Scorsese’s film is being called a masterpiece, great, and some are saying it’s just too long. Such should be expected when your picture runs nearly three hours long. And it also sounds like in both cases the films were finished mere hours before the films started to screen.

But Hustle is the first to win any major awards, though it seems the main gripe against it is that Russell seems doggedly in pursuit of getting an Oscar. With an all star cast, the film should attract attention, but it’s hard not to wonder if a backlash hasn’t already kicked in, even if the film hasn’t even screened to that many people. David O. went from being an outsider indie auteur with a reputation for being hell on the set to directing two films to best picture nominations over the last couple years. He may get a third, but has yet to win anything for himself. Will this be his winner? Could be, but there’s definitely ammunition against him.

But the Academy is often reticent to accept outsiders. It took the Coens until 1996′s Fargo to start getting any serious nominations, and that was after Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, and the Cannes Best direcotr winner Barton Fink, and that was their most mainstream film to date. They won for writing that year, but it wasn’t until 2007′s No Country For Old Men that they were seriously nominated again. The good news is that their pictures have been consistent nominees since (though perhaps due to flexible number of best picture nominees). That puts them in a great place for at least a nomination this year, though it’s hard to know if this one will be a academy favorite.

But now, in the last month of the year, the playing field is finally set and people can say that all the contenders have been screened. Now, now the race is on.

What December picture do you think is a front runner?