As First Half of ’10 Closes, Serious Oscar Contenders Have Yet to Emerge

Toy Story 3With the Oscars still months and months away, The Hollywood Reporter has nonetheless turned its attention to the contenders — or rather the lack thereof — that have emerged from the first half of the year.

There will again be 10 nominees for Best Picture, but, says THR, the film industry hasn’t been pumping out likely nominees.

“I don’t think we’re going to look back on the first six months and find anything,” one campaign consultant told the trade.

That could change this weekend with what could prove to be 2010’s Up. Indeed, the first blue-chip contender looks to be Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3, which, as of Thursday, boasted a 100% rating on

Other animated films that could make the cut, says THR, include DWA’s How to Train Your Dragon and Sylvain Chomet’s upcoming The Illusionist.

After that, the next great Oscar hope is likely Christopher Nolan‘s Inception, a July release from Warner Bros. The film is one of the year’s most highly anticipated, and if it delivers, a nomination would go some way toward making up for The Dark Knight‘s exclusion in 2008.

On the specialty front, Debra Granik’s drama Winter’s Bone was the big narrative film winner at this year’s Sundance, which could help propel it to Precious status.

“Oscar positioning hasn’t been a major part of our release strategy, but we’d certainly be excited if that’s its destiny,” distributor Roadside Attractions co-head Howard Cohen, told THR.

Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right is also looking to succeed as counterprogramming when Focus releases it July 9.

Meanwhile, the Cannes competition did little to further Oscar talk apart from strong buzz (yet no prizes) for Mike Leigh‘s Another Year.

It’s still very early days, to be sure, and with the trifecta of Venice-Telluride-Toronto to come, the race has only just begun.