Likely Winner: There Will Be Blood
A tough call, since this Paul Thomas Anderson anti-epic is just starting to get a wide release. For this very forbidding drama to win, audiences will have to feel at least some of the rapture critics have lavished on it. But I have to take my Oscar physical today. So my heart says Atonement; my head says No Country; but my gut says that, on Oscar night, there will be Blood.
Corliss Pick: No Country for Old Men
I'm figuring some Oscar voters will not forgive this movie for its ultimate switcheroo: the deflation at the climax of what had been the year's tautest, most involving chase film. And the Coens are not the Academy's most beloved brother act: only one Oscar so far, for their Fargo script. But the intelligent pleasure they give here is matched only by the movie's old-fashioned bone-chilling tension. It'd have my vote.
Robbed: Sweeney Todd
Once the Depp fans realized this was a musical a musical drama, without the saving nostalgia of rock 'n roll pastiche they stayed away. (The Academy didn't care either, depriving it of nominations for cinematography, art direction and costume design.) But director Tim Burton was not only faithful to the old Sondheim musical; he clarified and improved it.
Other films that have been nominated for Best Picture include Atonement, Juno and Michael Clayton.