Oscars 2013: Runners and riders

Under rules drawn up by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, up to 10 films can be shortlisted for its best picture prize when its nominations are announced on 10 January.

Two months ahead of the 2013 ceremony, the BBC looks at the movies that are most likely to be up for the Academy's top award, and assess their chances of recognition in other categories.

Ben Affleck won an Oscar in 1998 for the screenplay he co-penned with fellow actor Matt Damon for Good Will Hunting.

In the decade that followed, some dubious decisions saw his leading man status wane as his friend's rocketed.

John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Ben Affleck in Argo Alan Arkin (centre) plays a grumpy movie producer in Affleck's film

But in recent years Affleck has cannily reinvented himself as a film-maker of promise and some distinction.

The fact this real-life, recently declassified rescue operation involved a phantom film production effectively casts Hollywood as the hero of the piece.

That, and Affleck's 'comeback kid' story makes it a solid bet for best picture. Affleck, who also appears in the film, is expected to receive another nomination in the director category.

On the acting front, Argo's best hopes of another citation lie with Alan Arkin for his entertaining turn as a cantankerous producer.

Having been named best supporting actor in 2007 for Little Miss Sunshine, however, the 78-year-old shouldn't need to write an acceptance speech.

Under normal circumstances, Quentin Tarantino's slavery-era western would seem a sure-fire bet for Oscar consideration.

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, though, Django's graphic mayhem has seen it attract censure in a reopened debate on movie violence.

Leonardo Di Caprio in Django Unchained Django star Di Caprio has been Oscar-nominated on three previous occasions

The elderly, more conservative contingent of the Academy membership might balk at rewarding such a bloodily visceral film in this charged political climate.

Compiled by: M.W