My Envelope colleague Pete Hammond and I agree that "No Country for Old Men" is quickly gathering so much fanatic support from film critics that it's now a serious Oscars contender for best picture. We both have it listed in our fifth position in this week's Buzzmeter (click here, then click on "Individual Panelists' Rankings" to see.)
But will critical huzzahs really translate to industry support? When "L.A. Confidential" swept the critics awards, it got a bump into the Oscar high five, but not "United 93" and "Mulholland Drive."
"My prediction is that 'No Country' is the film that will get the majority of the best-picture critics' awards," Pete says emphatically in our podcast chat. (CLICK HERE to download the MP3 file and listen. Note: You may need to hold down your computer's control key while clicking.) "The critics' awards tend now to copy each other. 'No Country' will be successful there and that will have an effect on the academy, combined with the fact that it's the Coens and also that it's great filmmaking."
Coen brothers' movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" was nominated for screenplay in 2000, but it's been since "Fargo" in 1996 that one of their flicks was up for best pic. "No Country" has lots of graphic violence, which sometimes academy voters shrink from — though, certainly not last year when "The Departed" won!
Pete concedes: "There's definitely a faction of the academy that won't like it because of it's violence . . . but pretty much every movie out there now is dark and violent."
Also, a key consideration is the Oscars' preferential ballot, which favors movies that voters are passionate about, ones they'll rank in the first or second slot among nominee choices. Personally, I think it may get that backing from those academy members who comprise the largest voting bloc — tech guys who'll especially appreciate this movie's macho-ism — but maybe not.
"I don't think it'll spark great, great passion, but it'll definitely get some of those number-one or number two-placed votes," Pete adds. "I've thought all along that 'No Country' is the kind of movie that could show up in director, writing and cinematography, but not get into the picture race and that is still very, very possible."
"United 93" and "Mulholland Drive" both scored directors' bids despite being locked out of best picture.
Listen to our full podcast chat, which also includes discussion of whether "Michael Clayton" has a real shot at a best-pic nom and whether "Enchanted" star Amy Adams can make the best-actress lineup. CLICK HERE!