While we tend to side with the Bagger's opinion that Slumdog Millionaire has got this year's Oscar for Best Picture locked up, it's impossible to completely turn an intentionally blinded eye from the fire that the film has been coming under in the last few days. If Slumdog does in fact stumble between now and February 17 (the last day for Oscar voters to turn in their ballots), Milk looks like it's best positioned to capitalize on the stumble. In addition to it being incredibly well-respected within the community of voters who make up the Academy, there are two main factors that could help propel the film to glory on Oscar night.
1) Milk Is Still Building Momentum - As Anne Thompson sagely reports, over at Variety, Focus Features has taken the slow-and-steady approach to building their Oscar campaign for Milk. Whereas their campaign for Brokeback Mountain in 2005 crested too early, Milk is only now going into wide release. If the movie can perform strongly this weekend, it will be top-of-mind for Academy voters as they begin casting their ballots.
2) A Win for Milk Helps Ease the Sting of the Brokeback Snub - As we mention above, Crash was able to overtake Brokeback Mountain in the Best Picture race in 2005. Some attribute this upset to the belief that some of the older ranks of the Academy held strong anti-gay beliefs, an assertion that Rope of Silicon brings up in a post that breaks down this year's Oscar race. In their eyes, a vote for Milk could help to reestablish the Academy as a place where tolerance prevails above all else.
Then again, Sean Penn could end up getting in a brawl with the completely unpredictable Anil Kapoor at the DGA Awards on Saturday night, at which point the Old-Man Baby from Benjamin Button would become the odds-on favorite for the prize. It's awards season, man; anything can happen!