To catch you up, the movies that are nominated for awards seldom get that way simply because a buncha show people happened to see them and like them. The studios have a pretty large portion of advertising money tied up in lobbying guild members and critics to consider their films for awards. It pays off in increased ticket sales, and also in less tangible things like prestige and good will from the talent.
As it happens, Variety has a piece today about this very practice. The thrust seems to be that once Harvey Weinstein starts with his ads and parties and screenings and goodie bags, it signals the official beginning of awards campaign season. Fair enough. The pre-Weinstien years were nothin' compared to the modern era, because Weinstein devoted at least as much of the Miramax publicity apparatus to awards as he did to just buying TV ads. And it worked too!
My favorite ads are the ones where there clearly is absolutely no possibility of consideration. Often when a studio makes a deal with a star, there is a rider in the contract that x amount of money has to be devoted to consideration ads. Thus you might see, for example, "For Your Consideration: Halle Berry in CATWOMAN." Maybe this year, "Gerard Butler in GAMER". As my friend Bill says, it's a magic town.