Ok, so the top two are almost sure things. Numbers three and four are looking likely but could still be left off. The fifth, sixth, seventh and eights spots could all be swapped around and still be very likely. This race is hard to predict. Right not "Atonement" gets the spot simply because it will have tech support, good will for the cast, and the support from the British voters.
The Top Five (still not clear)
1 - “No Country for Old Men” was raved at Cannes, it ill be raved at more festivals and when it opens it will be raved some more. This film should easily be nominated. So far this and “Atonement” are the only ones that feel like sure bets, but something can always happen.
2 - The Academy loves to reward actors turned directors, especially if the film is question is great, and the actor in question is well respected. Sean Penn’s “Into the Wild” is garnering the type of reviews that make For Your Consideration ads makers drool. The Guilds love it.
3 - “There Will be Blood” is the type of film the Academy may not love (far too dark and unlikable) but is so well regarded and powerful that they have no choice in nominating. Paul Thomas Anderson has not been rewarded for his work and this is the time to reward him.
4 - “Juno” With such heavy fare there is a welcome slot for a good comedy. And there always is a comedy or ‘light’ film in the mix. This film has been praised very highly, so we may see this appear victorious in the end. The precursors were very kind and box office is grand.
5 - We all know that “Atonement” will be in the mix somewhere. Everything from the acting to the costumes is getting praise. The guilds have stayed away, although HFPA loved it. Could enough outsider and brit love see it still slip in?
The Next Five
6 - “Michael Clayton” has already gotten BIG praise. The reviews are very very positive and after seeing the movie I can see why. My only reservation is the film is very serious, and if you look above at the other films in contention, non of them are what you would call happy
7 - ”The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is foreign, but it is also feel real good. The film is extremely touching and getting heaps of praise from the critics and is crossing over nicely. The battle between the next 3 films in line is fierce. All could be in.
8 - “Sweeney Todd” could be one of the three musicals that make it in. It seems the most likely at this point although the other two were VERY well received. The reviews are great, the only worrying thing is the lack of support from the guilds and critics thus far.
9 - “The Kite Runner” is a controversial choice, but I get the feeling the voters will want to seem ‘global’ and liberal and throw a couple of nominations this way. The director has had great success with the Academy before, and the trailer makes this film seem very promising.
10 - “Charlie Wilson’s War” has already been called the front runner. I say too soon! There is no concrete evidence of this being a great movie. Advanced screeners say it is very good. However the talent behind it means you cannot completely rule it out. We shall have to wait and see.
The Rest In Line
11 - “Hairspray” Got the GG, BFCA, and SAG nom, plus it is hard not to love.
11 - ”American Gangster” something just does not feel right to me about this.