The Danish Girl: Perhaps the biggest question mark before the reception it received, reviews for The Danish Girl have been more...respectable than anything else. All the critics aren't fully behind it but they do recognize its importance. It's similar to the reception The Imitation Game received. Also, some reviews have said that Alicia Vikander is the MVP. With the prolific year she is having, with the release of this, Man From U.N.C.L.E., Testament of Youth, Burnt, and of course, Ex Machina, it'll be easy for her to land a spot somewhere. Question is, where will she go? Lead or Supporting? I definitely think Eddie Redmayne will be nominated, but I'm not feeling a 2nd consecutive win. I'll wait until Toronto to see if the film's buzz gets a more significant boost.
Steve Jobs: Reception for Steve Jobs has been, so far, incredibly positive with praise going to Aaron Sorkin's script as well as the performances by Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, and of course, Fassbender. With the makeup transformation into Steve Jobs as well as potential juicy Sorkin-esque monologues mixed with the positive buzz he has received, he could very well win this thing. That is if The Revenant doesn't peak too late because if DiCaprio comes out strong, then..watch out.
Room: This one I was very happy with. In particular because Brie Larson has emerged as a stronger contender for Best Actress, potentially snagging the bid I still think she was robbed of for Short Term 12. There are also strong notices for child actor Jacob Tremblay. Although I have my fears that because he is a kid, they'll pull that Supporting crap that they often do with child actors in lead roles. Hope not. Larson is a definite contender for Lead though and I can't wait to see this.
Suffragette: While she didn't show up to Telluride due to her pregnancy, the one person involved in Suffragette that has come out the best is Carey Mulligan. Even the reviews that weren't crazy about the film have heaped praise towards Mulligan's work. I don't know how strong of a contender it'll be in other major categories, but at this point, I would say Carey Mulligan is a definite frontrunner for Best Actress. It helps that her film involving gender equality is very timely.
Black Mass: Reviews for this one have been pretty positive. The reviews have especially been kind to Johnny Depp even if there doesn't seem to be this universal mindset of Johnny Depp making a comeback since while he has had his fair share of critical/box office misfires in recent years, he never really disappeared for a while the way Matthew McConaughey did before he made his big comeback. but another actor in Black Mass that reviews have singled out is Joel Edgerton. I'd keep a sharp eye out for him in the Supporting Actor category where he will likely go.
Spotlight: While Thomas McCarthy came out with, what was apparently his worst film, The Cobbler earlier this year, he seems to have come back already in a big way with Spotlight. Praise has not only gone to his direction, but also to the actors. One name that reviews are singling out is Michael Keaton as Walter Robinson. Very good sign for Keaton who could be holding an I.O.U. after losing for Birdman. So if anybody's going to win for this film, it'll likely be him.
Beasts of No Nation: It looks like Netflix's first Oscar bid is starting to pan out nicely as it has a positive reception, in particular for Idris Elba as the villainous yet unnamed Commandant. Leading child actor Abraham Attah has also gotten strong notices. I do worry that, given the subject matter involving children in war, it'll be difficult to watch for some voters. But they did give Best Picture to 12 Years A Slave and that was quite a challenging piece of cinema.
Carol has also continued its positive buzz, as well as Andrew Haigh's 45 Years starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. Now we wait for Toronto where plenty of unseen contenders (Freeheld, The Martian, Our Brand Is Crisis, I Saw The Light, etc.) will either make their mark or miss because for every Gravity or 12 Years A Slave that makes their splash at Toronto, there's a Judge or Men, Women, and Children that stumbles their way out.