Dave Karger
October 24, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Maybe the Academy should have just three Best Picture slots this year instead of five. Paramount Pictures’ decision to push its Robert Downey Jr./Jamie Foxx drama The Soloist to 2009 — as part of an overall move to cut back on the number of films it releases each year — means there’s one fewer candidate in the running for Oscar’s big prize. Paramount Vantage’s simultaneous announcement that its Daniel Craig WWII drama Defiance will see a perfunctory Oscar qualification run on Dec. 31, before coming out nationally in January, doesn’t exactly help its chances either. Meanwhile, the Weinstein Co. revealed to EW that it was bumping its Cormac McCarthy adaptation The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron, to next year as well. (It had been scheduled for a Nov. 14 release.) What’s the overall impact of all this shifting? For Downey, it means that his big Oscar push will now be in the Supporting Actor category for his riotous turn in Tropic Thunder. And with so many hyped films either falling short of expectations (why, hello there, Body of Lies!) or falling out of 2008 altogether, perhaps the Academy may reward a bona fide crowd-pleaser like The Dark Knight with a Best Picture nomination after all.

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