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This story first appeared in the Nov. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
1. The Adventures of Tintin The Steven Spielberg-Peter Jackson film has tremendous reviews, but will the Academy deem its motion-capture “animated” enough to qualify for the category?
2. Rango It opened way back in March, but solid reviews and nearly $250 million in worldwide box office have kept it in the thick of things ever since.
3. Happy Feet Two The first Happy Feet beat the first Cars for the Oscar five years ago, and now their sequels are going head to head.
4. Cars 2 This sequel to one of Pixar’s weakest films improved on the original in terms of quality, if not box office.
5. Arthur Christmas Sony Animation’s leading contender, released Nov. 23 in 3D,will be getting a big awards push. Sony is all in on this movie.
1. The Interrupters Steve James is very much back in the game 16 years after Hoop Dreams with this powerful doc about unlikely heroes.
2. Project Nim This doc from 2008 best doc winner James Marsh (Man on Wire) was released around the same time as Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which shares a similar premise.
3. Senna This edge-of-your-seat film captures the speedy rise and fall of Brazilian Formula One race-car driver Ayrton Senna.
4. Buck This doc about a master horse trainer and the dark childhood that led him to horses won a Sundance Audience Award and is one of the most understated and moving films of the year.
5. Into the Abyss This gripping story about crime and its impact on victims, perpetrators and their families was pieced together from just eight hours of footage shot by the great Werner Herzog.
1. A Separation Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s film about domestic bickering in Tehran won big at the Berlin Film Festival and has played well across the festival circuit.
2. Where Do We Go Now? Lebanon’s entry won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival, an honor that tends to foretell success with the Academy.
3. Le Havre Finland’s submission, a charming Aki Kaurismaki dramedy, premiered at Cannes, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize for best film.
4. Footnote The Israeli entry, which played well at its official screening, comes from Joseph Cedar, the filmmaker who guided Beaufort to a nom in this category four years ago.
5. Pina German filmmaker Wim Wenders chronicles the life and work of his late friend Pina Bausch, a legendary choreographer, in this 3D film.
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