If Oscars voters are feeling especially arty, they might go for Manuel Alberto Claro's work on "Melancholia." It would be the first film by Lars von Trier to get a Best Cinematography slot.
A surprise nominee in 2009 was "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." That film's cinematography Bruno Delbonnel has parted company, but he was replaced by three-time Osccar nominee Eduardo Serra who shot the series' final chapter "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2."
The Cold War-era "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" could get Hoyte Van Hoytema his first Oscar nomination. But don't bet on it. This is an outside shot, at best.
Jeff Cronenweth was cited for "The Social Network" just last year. He reteams with that film's director David Fincher this year on "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Fincher's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (2008) also found its way into this category.
If any newcomer breaks into the category this year, bet on it to be Guillaume Schiffman. "The Artist" is a period-set film shot in black-in-white like recent nominees "The White Ribbon" (2009) and "Good Night, and Good Luck" (2005). Its crafts will surely dominate the Oscars.
Darius Khondji was nominated in this category in 1996 for "Evita." He worked with Woody Allen on the critically beloved "Midnight in Paris." However, Allen's film have only resulted in one Best Cinematography nomination: "Zelig" (1983).
Critics singled out Newton Thomsa Sigel's work on "Drive." The film would be a spoiler if it broke into Best Cinematography. After all, how hard can it be to make Ryan Gosling look good?
George Clooney's directorial effort "Good Night, and Good Luck" got a nomination in this category. But Phedon Papmichael is unlikely to get his first Oscar nod for "The Ides of March." It's not a period film or in black-and-white like "Good Night" was.
Stephen Goldblatt has two Oscar nods for "The Prince of Tides" (1991) and "Batman Forever" (1995). He is an outside shot for "The Help."
Last year's winner Wally Pfister ("Inception") could be slated for "Moneyball." It would be the first time he has been nominated for a film not helmed by Christopher Nolan. Pfister got nods for Nolan's "Batman Begins" (2005) and "The Dark Knight" (2008).
Clint Eastwood's cinematography Tom Stern got his first nomination back in 2008 for "Changeling." Period drama "J. Edgar" has similarly moody lighting. Oscar voters might favor him again.
A seventh nomination could come to Robert Richardson for "Hugo," the latest offering from Martin Scorsese. Richardson won in 2004 for his "The Aviator" and had previously won for "JFK" (1991). His most recent nod was for "Inglourious Basterds" (2009).
Back in 2008, Chris Menges was nominated (alongside Roger Deakins) for Stephen Daldry's "The Reader." He and Daldry have worked together again on "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." Another nomination would be his fifth overall; he has two wins for "The Killing Fields" (1984) and "The Mission" (1986).
Terrence Malick's last three films -- "Days of Heaven" (1978), "The Thin Red Line" (1998), and "The New World" (2005) -- broke into the Best Cinematography race with "Days" winning. His "New World" collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki is a virtual lock for this year's "The Tree of Life." It would be Lubezki's fifth nomination.
Janusz Kaminski, who regularly collaborates with Steven Spielberg, is a serious contender for "War Horse." He has won honors for Spielberg's war epics "Schindler's List" (1993) and "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) and was a nominee for "Amistad" (1997) and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007).