"No Country," "Blood" lead grim Oscar field

Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:58pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

BEVERLY HILLS, California (Reuters) - "No Country For Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood," two violent portraits of moral decline, led the Oscar race with eight nominations each

on Tuesday, but the main drama was whether a Hollywood writers strike would cancel the awards show altogether.

The British period romance "Atonement" and the legal thriller "Michael Clayton," both dealing in lies and deceit, picked up seven nominations each.

All four films were nominated for best picture, along with the quirky teen comedy "Juno," a rare showcase for levity in a field packed with heavy material.

"These are grim pictures for grim times," said Robert Wilonsky, movie critic with Village Voice Media and the Dallas Observer.

Indeed, the main question in Hollywood was not who would win the entertainment industry's most coveted awards, but whether the ceremony would take place at all.

Hollywood has been crippled by a writers strike now in its 12th week. If the walkout is not settled by the time the awards take place on February 24, the Writers Guild of America has threatened to protest at the ceremony, and the Screen Actors Guild vowed its members would not to cross any picket lines.

"I don't think anybody is going to go (to the Oscars ceremony)," Oscar-nominated "Michael Clayton" writer-director Tony Gilroy told Reuters at a union rally in New York. "It won't be a decision I'll be taking individually. It's one of these situations where you just don't cross a picket line, and I think everybody knows that."   Continued...

<p>Dillon Freasier (L) and Daniel Day-Lewis appear in a scene from the film "There Will Be Blood" in this undated publicity released to Reuters January 22, 2008. The film was nominated for best picture for the 80th annual Academy Awards, announced in Beverly Hills January 22, 2008. The Oscars will be presented February 24, 2008 in Hollywood, California. REUTERS/Paramount Vantage/Handout</p>