As any sane Oscar prognosticator will tell you, predicting the coming year's nominees the April before the ceremony is, sans time machine, a fool's errand. I must then start this article with the obligatory warning that all predictions at this point are educated guesses based on the pedigree of the people involved, the subject matter of the movies, and a keen sixth sense that has been carefully refined over years of trivial obsession for all things Oscar. With the exception of a few festival holdovers from last year, almost no one has seen any of these films (some of which are in the process of filming right now), so at least until the Cannes Film Festival, and more realistically the Toronto Film Festival, we don't really know much. With that in mind though, predicting the Oscars isn't a total crapshoot. The Academy has fairly predictable tastes which can lead to some good educated guesses, even at this early stage of the game. Inevitably though, some prestige bubbles will burst, while other diamonds in the rough will seemingly come out of nowhere, making it an unassailable fact that these lists will vary a great deal as the year goes on. For now though, this is what I got, my best reading of the current awards landscape. I have compiled a list of the top 20 contenders in the Best Picture race as I see them now. I have also rounded up a list of dark horses that didn't quite make the cut, but are nevertheless films I am keeping a close eye on in terms of awards potential. Also, be sure to keep eyes out for my previews of the other major Oscar races (Director, the four Acting categories, and the two Writing categories) which will be on the way shortly. In the meantime, enjoy the preview.