If box-office returns were Oscar votes, Les Misérables and Django Unchained would be surging.
Les Mis, the Hugh Jackman-Anne Hathaway musical, scored the second-biggest all-time Christmas Day opening with an $18.2 million take, per estimates as compiled Wednesday by the tracking firm Exhibitor Relations.
Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained put up the third-biggest Yuletide debut ever: $15 million.
Les Mis also set a new mark for a movie-musical opening day. The record previously was held by High School Musical 3.
Unlike HSM3, Les Mis is considered to be on the inside track for Best Picture. Oddsmakers lost some faith in the movie, which is based on the long-running stage show and the Victor Hugo novel, when early reviews were mixed. But Universal Pictures said opening-day audiences graded the movie an A, and, in the Oscar standings that to be perfectly honest exist only in the imagination of gaming sites, it remains a close second for Best Picture to Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, a $100 million-plus box-office hit in its own right. (E! and Universal are both part of the NBCUniversal family, which is owned by Comcast.)
Django, meanwhile, proved holiday audiences were nearly as hungry for the anti-Les Mis, a bloody blaxploitation spaghetti Western that scored Tarantino's biggest-ever opening day.
Though down to third place in the daily standings, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had a big Christmas, too. The Peter Jackson film added an estimated $11.3 million to its domestic total, now at about $168 million.
Parental Guidance, the new Billy Crystal-Bette Midler family comedy, didn't have a showy Christmas bow, but it had an OK one: $6.5 million.
Friday will bring the debut of Matt Damons Promised Land, but that awards-season aspirant will only be in limited release, leaving Les Mis, Django and The Hobbit to battle it out for the weekend crown.