Another more specific surprise to me is how many times I'm seeing District 9, the successful summer sci-fi film, show up in precursor list.
This past week the Producers Guild of America released their nominations, which included a now expanded 10 nominations for best picture (instead of their previous 5). On this list they went "sci-fi-crazy" with 10 science fiction films, Star Trek, Districk 9, and Avatar.
This is not usual.
Other than the important PGA award, few awards are choosing District 9 in it's Best Picture line-up, but it does show up in the adapted film category regularly as a nomination (Broadcast Film Critics Association, Golden Globes, and Satellite Awards).
Interesting note, the Golden Globes choose 5 best dramas, and 5 best comedy musicals, and only 5 screenplays. District 9 showed up in the screenplay category with "tougher" competition, but not in the picture categories?
All that to say, I feel like as more award bodies nominate this film, the film is being legitimized, and the buzz behind it is growing.
There is some certainty about some of the films that will be showing up at the Oscars, but District 9's chances are a mystery. It has a good chance is some of the technical categories, like sound effects, but what about bigger categories? It could be an Oscar morning surprise, or not show up at all.