What Films Are Getting Oscar Buzz for 2010?

Oscar buzz

There could be plenty of fresh faces mixed in with the Hollywood veterans at next year's Academy Awards as the buzz builds for the 2010 Oscars.

Newcomers Carrie Mulligan ("An Education"), Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker"), Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious") and Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") have all been cited for possible acting nods.

That would put them in the company of perennial favorite Meryl Streep, who could earn her record 16th nomination for her performance as Julia Child in "Julie & Julia," and Jeff Bridges, who could finally win a trophy after four nods, for his role as a washed-up country singer in "Crazy Heart."

Despite some very good performances, critics aren't exactly cheering this year in film.

"I don't feel like it's been a spectacularly strong year in movies," New York Times critic A.O. Scott told ABCNews.com. "It kind of feels like the really exciting movies are fewer and farther between."

Despite one of the sparser years in film, the Academy decided to double the best picture nominees from five to 10.

"The Academy may be in the middle of an identity crisis," Scott said. "It's trying to figure out a way to get ratings for the broadcast and somehow reconnect with the broad mainstream audience."

More slots will likely make for a more interesting race for the top prize.

"It opens it up at both ends, for some of the more commercial movies and maybe some smaller and animated movies," Scott said.

Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips, who co-hosts the syndicated show "At the Movies" with Scott, thinks the George Clooney-helmed film "Up in the Air" has gotten so much buzz because of the slim pickings in film this year.

"I think this is why people are responding as crazily to 'Up in the Air,' because there haven't been that many satisfying commercial Hollywood products to come off this year," Phillips told ABCNews.com. "It basically works, it's slight but appealing, now suddenly people are talking Oscar nomination."

Scott was warmer toward the film.

"It's a movie that speaks to the moment," he said. "When I was watching it, I thought of when people watch Frank Capra movies to see what life was like during the depression. Well this is a film for now, during this moment of financial anxiety."

Oscar Buzz: Which Stars and Which Films Are Getting It?

Entertainment Weekly senior writer Dave Karger agreed.

"I give the edge to 'Up in the Air," he told ABCNews.com. "It's a movie all the critics love. It has a Hollywood gloss to it. It also has something important to say. And that's an irresistible combination."

The film could earn nods for co-star Anna Kendricks and writer-director Jason Reitman ("Juno"), who "has a very light touch about serious things," according to Scott.

Here are some of the other films and stars generating Oscar buzz this year:

"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"

This gritty urban drama directed by Lee Daniels ("Monster's Ball") and produced by Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey has been getting buzz since it premiered at Sundance.

"'Precious' is the first one out of the gate," Scott said. "It has a lot of momentum."

Surprise co-star Mariah Carey could earn her first nod for best supporting actress for her role as a social worker, as could newcomer Sidibe, who plays the title role of Claireece "Precious" Jones, an obese illiterate Harlem teen who is abused by her mother and raped by her father, who has impregnated her for the second time.

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