Christine Spines
September 18, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

There’s something un-American about letting the bastards win. But as awards season ramps up, Quentin Tarantino’s $103.9 million-grossing Inglourious Basterds has emerged as a strong Best Picture contender (especially since the Academy has opened the field to 10 nominees). ”It’s classic filmmaking and it has some interesting messages that might help it,” says a veteran Oscar campaign guru. (For example, the anti-Nazi revenge tale could particularly appeal to Jewish Academy members.) In the acting categories, Christoph Waltz, whose turn as an über-Nazi helped him score the villain role in The Green Hornet, is an early front-runner. And in non-Basterds news: There’s talk of a third Oscar for Robert De Niro for his turn as a soulful dad in Everybody’s Fine (out Dec. 4).

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