Okay, so as Nathaniel mentioned on his blog, AMPAS have been sent their voting ballots and that most of them are returned post haste. I decided to look at it a bit differently. What films + people does this help, which does it hurt and who will we not know until that day when nominees are released.
Obviously Brokeback Mountain - Surely a large portion of AMPAS will have popped their DVD into the player or, better yet, seeked the film out in cinemas and will be very aware of the buzz around the picture. Picture, Director, Screenplay, Heath and Michelle or sound like solid solid bets.
Good Night & Good Luck - The film recently went through a buzz surge with the globes and a bunch of critics citations. If the voters vote right this second then this will be on their rader. If they wait a couple of weeks... who knows. It could easily be buried amongst other DVDs and it's leaving cinemas as we speak. Could this be one of those movies that gets a couple of high-profile spots but nothing else. Techs could be tough, even cinematography (always a battle ground for nominees)
The Constant Gardener - Could this be the dark horse for the Best Picture race? Hmm... I have a hunch. I'm not predicting it, but I think that much like GN&GL it's currently going through a buzz swing with the suprise Globe success (Picture, Director, Supp Actress being the biggies) and supporters are coming out left, right and centre. Could Fernando Meirelles' film get pushed into the stratosphere of nominations? Will it manage to get the exact same nominations that City of God did (actually, quite a strange parallel universe kind of freaky coincidence) or will they not fall for it? Hmm...
Match Point - The very last minute release can work for you or against you. In this case I think it'll work. I think a very huge portion of AMPAS will want to see this film before voting, thus giving it a high visability factor (whether it be by cinema or DVD). Woody is extremely popular with actors (and they'll be happy he's back to making great movies. they'll be lining up around the block to be cast again) and writers and some big Globes buzz can only get it higher.
King Kong - If immediate reactions are to be taken seriously, the film has faultered. It's lower-than-expected box-office is a big news story and whispers are that the film isn't going over all too well with regular filmgoers. Some may decide to leave it off in favour of something they feel much more passionate about (something that will definitely come into play methinks - passion, that is) such as a Constant Gardener or a Match Point
Joan Allen in Upside of Anger - I don't know if her campaign was ever going to get revved up, but the lack of a Globes nod probably sealed New Line's decision not to do anything. If it gets a nod then it ain't because of New Line, but because AMPAS like Joan Allen. This would be her fourth nomination - something another popular lass did last year with an early year release (Kate Winslet). Right now, the tides aren't in Joan's favour though.
Memoirs of a Geisha - Technical nods are probably gonna happen (but you never know, really) so the only three categories it could feasably show up in (in order of ability) Supporting Actress, Lead Actress, Adapted Screenplay. Screenplay is all but a non hope now though and Zhang's perf is hanging with one limb left on the branch. Gong Li could ride international good will to a nod, but again, the tide ain't in her favour right now.
Cinderella Man - As I've said all along, techs are still quite possible. The rest... not so much. I don't even feel right predicting Paul Giamatti and I think if he gets in it's actually more a factor of the lack of solid frontrunners in that category more than anything else.
Can't Really Tell
A History of Violence - Sort of has remained constant in buzz (wavering slightly of course) throughout the entire season. Picking up a steady stream of awards but nothing huge. The surprise Globes nods (but none for Cronenberg's direction?) were helpful, but again - they don't really tell us anything. Can Maria Bello overcome category confusion? Can Cronenberg overcome genre bias? I still have no idea.
Munich - A movie that I think needed way more time to build. Releasing such a heavy film on Christmas Day (or two days before, or whenever it was last weekend) mightn't have been a great decision. Box-office wasn't on the Brokeback or Memoirs side of things, but it wasn't bad either. It was just normal. And it's just hard to tell how AMPAS will react to it. We'll find out in a few weeks I suppose.
Crash - My thinking is that this is a film that if voters like, they will nominate it. Whether enough like it is another thing all together. It's release date puts pressure on it, but it has remained there throughout the entire season despite it not really getting much notice in terms of precursors.
Squid and the Whale - Hmmm... will they go for it? Or will it become just a Best Original Screenplay nominee and that's all? I can't tell.
Diane Keaton in The Family Stone - Will they decide to throw her a bone? Who knows at this stage. She plays a patriachal mother in a yuletide family gathering movie but will it be too stuffed (cast wise), too overdone (writing wise) or will they even like the taste in general?
and... that's all I can be bothered doing right now.