267 films vie for best picture Oscar nomination
Nearly 270 feature films have joined the battle for the 2005 best picture Oscar, organisers revealed, but only five will win coveted nominations when they are unveiled next month.
The 5,800 Academy Award voters are faced with a dizzying choice of 267 movies as they begin considering their list of contenders for nominations for cinema's ultimate prize.
"Nomination ballots and a complete list of the 267 eligible films were mailed this week to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences," the Academy said.
Voters now have less than three weeks to sift through the mountain of films before returning their completed ballots no later than January 15.
Nominations for the 77th-annual Academy Awards will be unveiled before dawn on January 25, launching the final frenzied phase of Hollywood's awards season.
Only five films will win nominations for best picture, forcing studios to do desperate battle to win Oscar voters' attention with a blitz of television, radio and trade paper advertisements focused on industry types in Los Angeles and New York.
The "For your consideration" ads have been filling entire pages of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and entertainment industry bible Daily Variety for weeks.
But a month ahead of the nominations announcement, clear frontrunners have emerged from the din of Hollywood "buzz" -- the insider scuttlebutt among those who vote for the award winners.
Oscar pundits say that Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic "The Aviator," Clint Eastwood's boxing flick "Million Dollar Baby" and Alexander Payne's road movie "Sideways" appear to be shoo-ins for best picture nods.
Also packing serious heat, according to the pundits, are "Finding Neverland," the story of "Peter Pan" author J.M. Barrie, starring Johnny Depp; "Kinsey," starring Liam Neeson as the famed sexologist; and "Closer," starring Jude Law and Julia Roberts in the story of a love quadrangle.