In a season of underdog triumphs, Oscar contenders jostle for 'little guy' status
For now, the presumed front-runner for Best Picture is the Coen Brothers' "No Country for Old Men," which has reaped a respectable $61.3 million to date, in addition to numerous kudos from film critics and the Best Picture award by the influential Producers Guild of America. However, the film's ultraviolence and less-than-conventional ending may turn off voters. Looming large in the Coen Brothers' rear-view mirror is "Atonement," the epic period drama based on Ian McEwan's lauded novel that scooped up top honors at the Golden Globes and the British Academy Film Awards. "Michael Clayton," too, could trump "No Country for Old Men" thanks to George Clooney's high-profile support for the film in between trips to raise awareness of the Darfur situation. Then, again, Awardsdaily.com, a website that tracks buzz on the nominees, notes that "There Will be Blood" – a sort of "Citizen Kane" set in the oil fields of early 20th-century California – is a "dark horse" that has been gaining momentum among voters of late. As in this presidential election cycle, though, "momentum" is a less-than-tangible property.