A scant six weeks remain until the Academy Award nominations are announced, so it's time to put your moviegoing into overdrive if you want to have the upper hand in water-cooler debates.
The various critics groups, the AFI Awards and Golden Globe nominations haven't clarified the front-runners, so the best strategy is to concentrate on best picture possibilities, which usually bring a lot of other nominations with them.
"A Beautiful Mind" (tied for most Golden Globe nominations), "Ali" and "Lord of the Rings" are accessible in theaters throughout the Southland.
"In the Bedroom" (L.A. Film Critics Assn.'s best picture and tied for most AFI Award nominations) is in a dozen Southland theaters, including the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, AMC Promenade 16 in Woodland Hills and the Monica in Santa Monica.
"Gosford Park" is at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, Landmark's NuWilshire in Santa Monica and Loews Cineplex Century Plaza, and added theaters Friday.
"Monster's Ball" is playing at the Sunset 5, Monica, Town Center 5 in Encino and the Playhouse 7, as well as Edwards' University Cinemas in Irvine.
"Black Hawk Down" (tied for the lead with five AFI nominations) is playing exclusively at the AMC Century 14 in Century City and the Mann Criterion 6 in Santa Monica but goes into wider release later this month.
"The Shipping News" (Miramax's ability to garner best picture nominations can never be underestimated) is in selected theaters, including the UA Westwood, the AMC Century 14, the Sunset 5, Playhouse 7, Pacific's Winnetka 21 in Chatsworth, Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21 and Loews Cineplex Broadway Cinemas in Santa Monica.
"Mulholland Dr." (the New York critics' choice for best picture) is in limited release at the UA Westwood, the Academy Cinemas in Pasadena and the Laemmle Fallbrook 7.
"The Man Who Wasn't There" is exclusively at the Academy Cinemas in Pasadena.
"Moulin Rouge" (six Golden Globe nods and the National Board of Review's top film) is still playing at the Mann Westwood and the Academy Cinemas.
In case you'd prefer to see it in a theater instead of on video, "Shrek" is at the Aero in Santa Monica and at the Sherman Oaks Galleria 16.
The Mann Westwood also has "Bridget Jones's Diary" (Renee Zellweger has a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a comedy) and "The Others" (starring Golden Globe drama actress nominee Nicole Kidman, who is also up for the musical "Moulin Rouge").