January is an important month for all those living up at Beverly Hills. All the hard work on 2010 begins to bear fruit. The Oscar nominations are announced almost at the end of the month, on January 25th. Less than two weeks before that, the Golden Globe awards are happening on January 16, Sunday, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The nominations for the Golden Globe for 2010 have seen their share of controversies but also face heavy competition. While the nominees and winners at the Golden Globe can be considered an indication of things to come in the Oscars, the polls are fast favoring The Social Network and The King's Speech as contenders for the top slots at the Oscars. Another dark horse is The Fighter, starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.

Here are some of the top contenders we think will make it to the Academy Awards nominations list this year:

1.The Social Network:
width=400The movie, produced by Columbia Pictures, garnered much interest even before its release due to the popularity of Facebook, and protests by its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, on whom the movie was based. Facebook's PR team condemned the book on which the movie was based and there were several positive articles about Zuckerberg in the media, including the first complete profile on the New Yorker.
Nevertheless, the movie earned nearly $22 million in the U.S. on its opening weekend, proving that people were as interested in the creator of the site on which most people spent their time on.
The Social Network has earned nearly $193 million worldwide, as of January, according to boxofficemojo.com. The movie has also won several smaller awards including the best actor, director, film, screenplay and music so far. Not to mention, the long list of nominations for the Golden Globe where Jesse Eisenberg reaches for his first Globe for the Best Actor.
If the movie wins an Oscar, it also ends a 23-year drought for Columbia Pictures. The last movie that got an award for the studio was in 1988 with The Last Emperor.

2. The King's Speech:
Produced by SeeSaw Films, a small independent production firm, the movie has grossed about $22 million* since its limited released in Nov. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 96 percent favorable rating.
Colin Firth plays King George VI and the movie narrates the king's sudden ascension to the throne and the story of how he gains confidence with the help of speech therapist, Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush), who helps him overcome his stutter that had once annoyed thousands of listeners at the Wembley Stadium.
Firth's performance as King George VI has gained much acclaim and won him several awards. He is also a strong contender for the Best Actor - Drama category in the Oscars.

3. 127 Hours:
Britain's second gift to film buffs, 127 Hours is based on a true story of a mountain climber, Aron Ralston, who gets trapped under a fallen boulder. Over the next five days, Ralston (James Franco) tries to pull himself out and has to scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he is rescued.
The movie is Danny Boyle's second entry to the Oscars (if nominated) in three years. His previous nomination, Slumdog Millionaire - a love story about three kids from the slums of India - won 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Original Score as well as Best Director.
The movie has gotten nominations for the Best Original Score (by A.R.Rahman) as well as Best Actor and Screenplay at the Golden Globe.
127 Hours has mostly been screened at film festivals and saw a limited release in the U.S. in November and has grossed about $10 million so far. For a movie that was made on a budget of merely $18 million, there is much hope yet.
Franco, who is better known as Harry Osborne on Spiderman, or for his role in Milk or television sitcom General Hospital, has received much critical acclaim for his role of Ralston.
He is also one of the hosts of the 83rd Academy Awards, which should make things interesting as media reports state that there might be one of those 'Best Actor' nominations headed his way this year.

4. Inception:
Christopher Nolan's dream invasion and espionage movie took the world by storm, proving to syndicates that there was much scope for a non-3D, non-sequel, and original story.


The cast of Inception

The Warner Bros. movie earned nearly $60 million on the opening weekend and has grossed nearly $825 million so far, while the movie is estimated to be made on a budget of about $160 million.
The movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb, the 'extractor' has won four nominations for the Golden Globe.
Inception is also DiCaprio's second 'mind thriller' of the year with the earlier Shutter Island also competing for space in the Oscars' list.

5. Shutter Island:
Martin Scorsese does it again. The movie is based on Dennis Lehane's book of the same name and is set in the early 50s on an island in the Boston Harbor.
Starring DiCaprio again, the movie failed to win any nominations for the Globe. However, DiCaprio has bagged other awards as the best actor.

6. The Fighter:
The Christian Bale-Mark Wahlberg collaboration about the professional boxer Irish Micky Ward is yet another contender for the Best Picture - Drama.
Bale is a strong contender for a nomination for the Best Supporting Actor's role. A nomination for the 83rd Academy Awards will end a long wait for the Golden Statue. Bale, an accomplished actor, has several acclaimed roles such as Batman (The Dark Knight), Alfred Borden (The Prestige) under this belt. However, the award has eluded him each time due to better contenders, or as his fans state, other politics.
Could The Fighter give Bale a fighting chance at the Oscars?

7. The Kids Are All Right:
Lisa Cholodenko's comedy-drama movie about kids through artificial insemination and the implications it has on a family has garnered much attention in the international film circuits.
However, movie reviewers and Oscar commentators worry that the movie might face the 'steak eaters' - the guys who vote for movies like Braveheart, Crash and other 'manly' movies over, say, a movie about a lesbian couple's family troubles. Brokeback Mountain had the most Oscar nominations at the 78th Academy Awards but though it was considered the frontrunner for the Best Picture, it lost out to Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon-starrer, Crash, a movie about racial and social tensions in LA. Brokeback Mountain did win the Best Director, Screenplay and Original Score though.
Let's hope Cholodenko's movie fares better this time.

8. Black Swan:
Natalie Portman plays a ballerina in the Black Swan. Her character in the movie is what some people call 'having shades of gray'. The movie created some controversy initially with some of its graphic sex scenes and injuries Portman suffered while shooting. However, the movie might just earn her the second Oscar nomination, after the nomination for Closer in 2004.
Black Swan has also been nominated for four Golden Globes, including Best Picture and Actress.

9. Alice In Wonderland:
Tim Burton's take on Lewis Carroll's novel, showcased in 3D. The movie, starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway, has grossed over $1 billion worldwide and continues to go on strong.
Johnny Depp has won nominations for his role as the Mad Hatter, while Carter might win herself a nomination for playing the Red Queen.

And then of course, there are the contenders for the animation movie - How To Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3 and a weak hope for Shrek Forever.