2008 Oscar race turned 'upside-down'

Chances diminished due to rescheduling

The Dow Jones has nothing on Oscar releases.

Last week brought one of the most topsy turvy awards weeks in recent memory, as release-date shifts for a spate of contenders reshaped the race. Three movies -- The Weinstein Company's "The Road" and Par's "The Soloist" and "Defiance" -- now might get, at best, a qualifying run or might not be eligible in 2008 at all.

Most notably, four best actor or supporting actor candidates -- Viggo Mortensen ("The Road"), Daniel Craig ("Defiance"), Robert "Downey Jr. ("The Soloist") and Jamie Foxx ("The Soloist") -- saw their odds diminish or disappear entirely with the rescheduling.

"The whole race turned upside-down in a matter of days," said one Oscar consultant. "You have four potential Best Actor candidates who are not just in limbo -- they may be gone."

Wary of falling prey to the buzz saw that struck many September and October movies last year -- and running behind on postproduction schedules -- a host of movies had been held back until later in the season.

But while December still looks crowded (the second half of the month alone is rife with hopefuls like "Revolutionary Road," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "The Wrestler), it looks a lot less jammed than it once did.

That could open up the race to other candidates who might have otherwise had a tougher time getting traction -- actors in smaller movies that opened earlier in the year, like Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor"), or stars of summer tentpoles like "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man."

And it opens up the field for other fall hopefuls, including Brad Pitt ("Button") Rourke ("The Wrestler"), Sean Penn ("Milk"), Josh Brolin ("W") and Frank Langella ("Frost/Nixon"), who now may get not just a wider berth but a bigger push.