Of the dozens of films shown at the Venice Film Festival this year, few will make it onto US cinema screens at all, never mind in 2010. Even those that do are often much too tiny, obscure, or hard work for industry bigwigs and media pundits to truly get behind. These are the main films that might have had a chance at Oscar attention.
Natalie Portman's dynamite performance in "Black Swan" could and should receive awards attention, but if the film is mauled by critics in some quarters (as I suspect it may be) then it and her could be entirely dismissed. Portman is the perfect age to break into the established Best Actress nominee mould, and her profile is still very lofty, but she needs people to take her seriously even if they don't do the same for the production as a whole.
Kelly Reichardt's film is too minimal to capture enough backing for major nominations, but its period pull may prove fruitful for the experienced, overlooked costume designer Victoria Farrell. Sadly, I'm inclined to believe that it'll probably be released in very few theatres and make a pittance, since it admirably doesn't flaunt what it has.
I didn't feel that "Miral" was doing enough in any sense to upset a portion of the Academy, but my Jewish, part-ambivalent friend thought otherwise. If the film is indeed seen to be pro-Palestine, as she felt it came across, then the Weinsteins may have a difficult job in getting it a Best Picture nomination. Still, while "Miral" is dull and misguided, it does fit perfectly into the AMPAS realm of the middle-ground ("We want peace for both sides" etc.), and so it's the kind of movie that can manage awards attention without great international acclaim.
I think that Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere" is finished in terms of awards opportunity, even in the Original Screenplay category. It doesn't appear to have the support of "Lost in Translation", and certainly doesn't have the same comedic impact. Destined to be drowned out by the post-Toronto flurry.
If "The Town" makes a big enough splash stateside then it may benefit from an early-ish release. Ben Affleck has the respect from "Gone Baby Gone" (and is an Oscar-winner after all) to command call for a Best Picture nomination, but probably only if similar films follow it and falter.
From the Rest:
One can make a case that if Catherine Deneuve wins Best Actress here, and should "Potiche" turn into a box-office hit in the U.S., then we could be looking at a sentimental nomination for its star. I think that that's very far-reaching, especially since the Actress race is looking particularly crowded at the moment. "Potiche" is also a possibility for France's Foreign Language submission, although they have a history of going against the grain in that regard.
Other Foreign Language submissions may emerge from Antonio Capuano's "Dark Love" (Italy), which is very good. I also think that Colombia would be wise to submit "Little Voices", an animation about the difficulties of children growing up with the threat of Guerilla warfare on their doorstep. It's very baity, and can probably coast a little on the animated, war-themed success of "Waltz With Bashir" a couple of years ago.