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Will 'Dark Knight Rises' be nominated for Oscar's best picture of 2012?

The dark knight risesIt doesn't get released to theaters till next summer, but it's never too early to start wondering if "The Dark Knight Rises" can get nominated for best picture of 2012 at the Oscars.

It's still a hot topic after director Christopher Nolan's last installment in the franchise, "The Dark Knight" (2008), failed to get that top nod. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won two -- supporting actor (Heath Ledger) and sound mixing -- but it wasn't up for best picture. Outrage over that snub grew so loud that the academy revamped the face of the race in 2009, increasing the list to 10 nominees from the usual five so there could be more room for blockbusters to get in. Last year, Nolan's "Inception" got nominated, but the director's branch snubbed him just as it had for "The Dark Knight." Curiously, by comparison, he's apparently beloved by the writer's branch. Twice he was nominated for best screenplay: "Inception" and "Memento" (2000).

At this point, of course, there's no telling what the 2012 Oscar best-picture race will look like or even how many contenders it will include. At the next derby, there will be a flexible number of best-picture nominees depending on how many reap 5% or more of the vote. But "The Dark Knight Rises" looks promising. It brings back Christian Bale as Batman and Michael Caine as his wise, protective, sidekick butler. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman claws her way into the action.

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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Warner Bros.

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