As we head into November, we can start bidding farewell to the summer blockbusters and October slasher flicks. November and December mark the beginning of Oscar bait season. That's right. This is the time when studios carefully roll out their prize magnets, just in time to qualify for the 2010 cut-off, but not too early to slip from the Academy voters' memories when it comes time to decide which movies will get those coveted nominations.

The best Oscar bait story in recent memory likely belongs to 'Girl, Interrupted.' The film unexpectedly launched Angelina Jolie's career, netting her an Oscar. 'Girl, Interrupted' was an Oscar vehicle, yes, but the driver was supposed to be Winona Ryder, not Angelina. What was meant to revive Winona's career instead became a launchpad for one of the most successful actresses of our time. Who'd have thought, at the time, that this plucky unknown actress would eventually outshine her big-name co-star?

This fall/winter movie season will certainly feature a healthy dose of Oscar bait, including the thematic staples of boxing, horse racing and single mothers fighting the man. Oscar regular Paramount Vantage ('There Will Be Blood,' 'An Inconvenient Truth,' 'Up in the Air,' 'Revolutionary Road,' 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button') has a busy couple of months approaching, with an onslaught of award-baiting films including 'The Fighter' and 'Waiting for Superman.' Moviegoers are in for a treat.

It was difficult to narrow this year's crop of transparent Oscar bait down to just 10, but somehow we managed. Here's a list of the top 10 films that are most obviously jostling for a position on the 83rd Academy Awards ballot.
categories Oscars, Columns