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Oscar derby drama now looks like a done race

January 27, 2008 |  9:50 pm

What a difference a few award shows makes. Just a few weeks ago there were several serious frontrunners for best picture. That's when "Atonement" led with the most Golden Globe noms and BAFTA pre-noms and "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country for Old Weeks_2 Men" split up the critics' awards — "No Country" claiming New York Film Critics Circle and Critics Choice while "Blood" won National Society of Film Critics and L.A. film critics. Meantime, "Juno" was kicking serious box-office booty while reaping best-picture bids from the Globes and Oscars.

There was a sense that "No Country" was out front for best pic, but vulnerable. Now, after leading with the most Oscar noms (tying "Blood") and winning DGA plus SAG ensemble, suddenly "No Country's" best-pic victory seems like a no brainer.

"Juno" still looked viable in the best-actress race considering how it usually skews young, but now that Julie Christie has snagged the Globe and SAG, Ellen Page is no longer acting as cocky as that Juno chick.

A few weeks ago it looked like Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd") or George Clooney ("Michael Clayton") might pose a serious challenge to Daniel Day-Lewis in the actors' race. Tonight at SAG, Clooney didn't bother to shop up and Depp wasn't even nominated.

All along we've known that Javier Bardem is waaaaay out front in supporting, but we also knew that that category, traditionally, often turns into a Veteran Achievement's Award. Now there seems to be little hope that Hal Holbrook ("Into the Wild") can pull off an Alan Arkin or James Coburn.

Instead, if there's a veteran who's suddenly viable this year, it turns out to be Ruby Dee ("American Gangster"). She's now a real player and is turning that supporting actress race — the historic Oscar hotbed for upsets (Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Binoche, Marisa Tomei) — into the only real category cliffhanger. Thanks, Ruby!


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