Personally, I'm skeptical that Dark Knight Rises can survive the gauntlet of big fall contenders like Anna Karenina and Lincoln. My guess is the Caped Crusader will once again have to be satisfied with a healthy tally of nominations in the technical categories.
If somebody did want to support the prediction that Nolan's Dark Knight vision will finally get its due, one could point to Toy Story 3 as evidence that the expanded Best Picture category allows acclaimed franchises to crack the top category for the first time. The same goes for normally Oscar-unfriendly genre fare like District 9. Likewise, Return of the King showed voters would heap accolades onto the end of a trilogy as a stand-in for honoring the achievement of the whole.
At this still murky stage of the race I scoped out Dark Knight Rises's chances in the top category plus 11 others in my newly updated Oscar tracking pages. Check them out:
Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Score, Costumes, Art Direction, Sound Mixing, Sound Effects, Visual Effects, Editing