"Fruitvale Station"

Nominated: A timely and, in the eyes of many, important look at a life cut short.

Neglected: With a running time of less than 90 minutes, it may feel a bit slight for the category. Ryan Coogler's indie directorial debut could be a better fit for the Spirit Awards.

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

Nominated: Warmhearted and sentimental, it could fill academy's warm-fuzzies, "Little Miss Sunshine" slot.

Neglected: "Saving Mr. Banks" may have dibs on that slot. And the movie's mix of whimsy and visual effects could strike some voters as too lightweight to be rewarded.

"The Book Thief"

Nominated: Fox is throwing a promotional push behind the young-adult WWII story that touches on the Holocaust. The tone of the pitch is on the one-sheet: "From the studio that brought you 'Life of Pi' ..."

Neglected: Well-meaning, but the adaptation has its share of structural issues and the presentation is, at times, heavy-handed. Reviews are likely to be mixed.

"Prisoners"

Nominated: The familiar premise is delivered with ambiguity and ambition without losing any of its primitive punch. Hugh Jackman has never been better.

Neglected: Many academy members will dismiss, sight unseen, a revenge tale revolving around missing children. Tough to watch and without the historical trappings of "12 Years" or the timeliness of "Fruitvale Station."

ALSO:

TIMELINE: The Academy Awards through the years

INTERACTIVE: Best and worst Oscar moments since 2008

VIDEO: Highlights from the Envelope Screening Series