Richard Linklater's third film about the couple who met in "Before Sunrise" and reunited in "Before Sunset" is a likely screenplay nominee, and perhaps the year's clearest Best Picture contender.
One of the best-reviewed films of the year, Jeff Nichols' southern story features another awards-worthy performance from the resurgent Matthew McConaughey.
Greta Gerwig is a double threat as screenwriter and lead actress in Noah Baumbach's black-and-white gem about a young woman trying to find her way in New York City.
"The Place Beyond the Pines"
Actors Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes, director Derek Cianfrance and screenwriters Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder are among those who'll be getting Oscar pushes for this multi-generational drama.
For years, Pixar owned the Oscar animated-feature category - and while it's unlikely that this sequel will crash the Best Picture race the way "Up" and "Toy Story 3" did, it's clearly a major player on the animation side.
"The Great Gasby"
Some critics savaged Baz Luhrman's extravagant take on F. Scott Fitzgerald, but Academy members flocked to AMPAS screenings of the film. If nothing else, Leonardo DiCaprio is a serious Best Actor contender.
"Iron Man 3"
Best Visual Effects? Sure. Best Sound Editing? Yeah. And beyond that, Robert Downey Jr. and crew will have to be content with that $1.2 billion in worldwide grosses.
Harrison Ford's hammy performance as Branch Rickey in the surprisingly successful baseball movie stirred up talk of a Best Supporting Actor nomination, but it'll take a savvy campaign to get him in the mix come awards season.
"20 Feet From Stardom"
A year after the music documentary "Searching for Sugar Man" won the Oscar, Morgan Neville's look at background singers has a shot to land a nomination, particularly with new doc rules that may help commercial films.
"Stories to Tell"
Sarah Polley's examination of her own tangled family history won raves on the festival circuit before its release, and is another film that should be a strong contender for the doc shortlist.