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The boxing movie is another classic genre, and DAVID O. RUSSELL's THE FIGHTER abides by its rules in its true story of the Pride of Lowell, champion Micky Ward. It should garner Best Picture and Best Director bids and may also benefit from what may be Oscar's Year of Boston-Accented Lumpen Proles, with CHRISTIAN BALE getting shortlisted for Best Supporting Actor and AMY ADAMS and MELISSA LEO earning Best Supporting Actress nominations.

Also contributing to this phenomenon will be JEREMY RENNER as a possible Best Supporting Actor for his psychopathic bank robber in The Town. Throwing in Sam Rockwell as the unfairly imprisoned Masshole in Conviction might be pushing it, especially since the film's star, HILARY SWANK, is likely to be nominated for Best Actress, her faint-to-non-existent accent notwithstanding. Finally, to show that the Academy isn't favoring any one region in its choice of funny-talkin' lower-class characters, expect to see JENNIFER LAWRENCE and JOHN HAWKES from Debra Granik's Ozark drama WINTER'S BONE (itself a Best Picture candidate) figure in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor races, and ROBERT DUVALL to get a Best Actor nod for his backwoods old coot in Get Low.

Although almost all of the above Best Picture wanna-bes have traces of the melodrama about them, DARREN ARONOFSKY's BLACK SWAN indulges in the genre with a fervor that would embarrass Douglas Sirk. Or is it really a horror movie à la David Cronenberg? Either way, it will feather its nest with nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, not to mention Best Actress for NATALIE PORTMAN and Best Supporting Actress for MILA KUNIS.

Like The Social Network, Black Swan indicates a trend of films not only returning to past genres but also pathologically retreating into the self. Yes, I'm talking about TOY STORY 3. Isn't it a paean to lost childhood, the time when the world consisted of toys and the stories we imagined for them? A Best Picture nominee, and if there were any justice, the evil toys' enforcer, Big Baby, would get a special mention.

What comes off as innocent in Toy Story 3 glistens with sinister calculation in Christopher Nolan's INCEPTION. A tour de force of the Dream Factory's power to re-create actual dreams, it's also noteworthy for demonstrating how to bury oneself deeper into fantasy as a response to problems in real life. Which is kind of what we go to movies for in the first place. That might be why the Academy will be offering the film a Best Picture nomination and CHRISTOPHER NOLAN a stab at Best Director.

This theme of escape into fantasy is dealt with directly in James Cameron Mitchell's Rabbit Hole. The title refers to a graphic novel created by a teenager in which the characters evade their troubles by traveling to alternative universes — a horizontal version of Nolan's more vertical arrangement. NICOLE KIDMAN plays a grieving mother who could use such an escape; Kidman herself could use the career boost of the Best Actress nomination that will probably be hers.

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Related: Tom Hooper's film looks like an Oscar winner, Rocky Mountain low, Oscar predictions: Liberal gilt, More more >
  Topics: Features , Jeff Bridges, Christian Bale, 127 HOURS,  More more >
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