The Dark Knight Rises, Batman

With the first wave of the TIFF line-up announced, and Venice unveiling their slate tomorrow, the promise of films not about explosions is getting ever-closer, even if we have to get through the likes of "Total Recall" first. So with the awards season just around the corner, it seemed like a good time to get The Amazing Race, our weekly Oscar coverage, going again. We popped our heads into awards season briefly after Cannes, but we'll be taking a look at things each week from here on out, as the journey begins to the Dolby Theater.

But with the films in Venice and Toronto yet to be screened, it seems only appropriate to start with perhaps the biggest movie of the summer, and certainly one of the few major blockbusters from the warmer months that has the best chance of appearing on Oscar ballots. Of course, we're talking about Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises." But will it finally be Nolan, and Batman's, time for glory or is it doomed to miss out again?

Christian Bale The  Dark Knight Rises

There's been a certain expectation for the third installment of Nolan's bat-trilogy ever since the last film, "The Dark Knight" was released. That film got multiple nominations, and won, albeit posthumously, for Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, but ultimately failed, even in a weak year, to make the final five Best Picture nominees. The snub was widely thought to have led to the Academy introducing ten Best Picture nominees the following year, in the hope of including films with more popular appeal, and 2010 did indeed see blockbusters like "Up," "Avatar" and "District 9" among the nominees. And at 2011's ceremony, Nolan picked up a Best Picture nomination for "Inception" as well as a screenplay nod, although he was snubbed in the directing category.

So short of the film being a disaster, "The Dark Knight Rises" was always going to be seen as being in contention this time around. And happily, it was far from a disaster. In this writer's mind, and in that of much of the staff, it's the superior entry in the trilogy and one of the best films of the year so far. Multiple nominations are guaranteed -- it should have several technical categories such as sound, editing, score, cinematography all but locked up -- and art direction, costume design and adapted screenplay are possibilities too, depending on the strength of competition. Hell, supporting nods for Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine aren't totally outside the realm of possibility, even if we'd be very surprised if they came to pass. But picture and director nominations are less certain at this stage.

There's certainly a feeling that Nolan's due for a nomination. He can't have been far off a nod for "Inception," and we feel that, even if the film doesn't make the Best Picture cut, he might end up being one of the five filmmakers honored this year, as much a recognition of his career to date, and his achievement across the trilogy, as anything else. "The Lord of the Rings" only won technical awards with 'Return of the King,' at which point it swept the board. Like Nolan's film, that was fantasy -- a genre never beloved by the Academy, given a new respectability (and giant box office) by a master filmmaker -- and given the last chance to reward such an achievement, the Academy leapt at it.