question of the day: What are the odds that at least one 2009 nominee for Best Picture came out of Comic Con?

The Best Picture category at the Oscars is gonna be wider than it has been before, what with a doubling from five to ten slots for nominees for 2009, but is it still a stretch to expect a movie with geek cred to get a nom?

I’m not so sure. If I hadn’t sworn off predicting Oscar noms months in advance, I’d say that District 9 has an excellent chance of a Best Picture nomination. But I don’t make those kinds of predictions, so I can’t say such a thing.

The New York Times blog Media Decoder is wondering the same thing about James Cameron’s wildly anticipated Avatar:

This may be remembered as the year the Oscar race started at Comic-Con.

In the last few years, the Toronto Film Festival, early in September, has kicked off the awards season. But Fox’s screening of extended scenes from James Cameron’s “Avatar” — coupled with the broadening of the best picture field to 10 nominees — turns the comic book and fan convention into something of an Oscar moment.

“Avatar”’s ambitious technique, which uses highly refined 3-D and computerized melding of the real and imaginary, would be enough to put it on the radar for prizes. But Thursday’s screening made it clear that much more was going on in the film, Mr. Cameron’s first feature since his “Titanic” swept the Oscars in 1998. “Everybody always asks, ‘Where have you been?’’ Mr. Cameron said after showing his clips. “Well, that’s where I’ve been.”

The 25 minutes of “Avatar” shown here are enough to end the debate about whether popular movies are ever getting back in contention. They are. The only real question is whether other pictures being promoted at the science fiction convention — Hayao Miyazaki’s “Ponyo,” for instance — might also have a shot at the best picture rolls.

What do you think? What are the odds that at least one 2009 nominee for Best Picture came out of Comic Con?

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