In light of yesterday’s DGA snub, it seems like Atonement, which had for months seemed like Oscars sure fire (isn’t that always how it goes..), has almost officially fallen off of Oscar’s radar. Even last week it remained in best picture predictions, but that has officially changed. Not to say it doesn’t have a chance. It just seems No Country, There Will Be Blood and to lesser extents, Into The Wild and Michael Clayton, are looking mightly fine after SAG and the DGA. And the last slot certainly feels like Juno, with its perfect-timing popularlity explosion and its nice “lightening up the five” reasoning. But it could also be Diving Bell or perhaps Atonement, or even two of those three could knock out Wild or, more likely, Clayton.
But what exactly happened? Its not a Charlie Wilson or Sweeney Todd type situation where clear happenings brought them down from their buzz-meter status. Atonement had good if not great reviews (84 on metacritic) and is making some really good money right now, outdoing both Clayton and Wild in buzz and overall critical and populist responses (in a way, I mean.. it still has less total box office then either, but its catching up quick). Just like previous last minute fizzle Cold Mountain, it had Oscar written all over it: romance, epic, novel adapation… but Atonement, save for some narrative flaws, delivered a lot more than Mountain. Or maybe thats just how I see it. But either way, its fighting an uphill battle to make the five, and even if it gets scores of BAFTA nods and a press conference’d Golden Globe or 2, at this point I’m only predicting it for screenplay in the main categories, and even that seems iffy in a crowded category featuring 5 other solid contenders (Blood, Country, Charlie, Diving Bell, Wild) and two welcome dark horses (Away From Her, Zodiac).