Mulling Over the Best Picture Nominations 

Film and music editor Chris Herrington had planned to fill to review one of the new-release mediocrities (serial-killer thriller Untraceable, perhaps?). But in a typically bad post-holidays period for Hollywood product, the truth is that thoughtful filmgoers are less likely to be choosing among these studio dregs than playing catch-up with Oscar nominees they missed.

Nominations were announced last week, with eight-nods-each auteur jobs There Will Be Blood (directed by Paul Thomas Anderson) and No Country for Old Men (by Joel and Ethan Coen) edging out more conventional seven-nod flicks Atonement and Michael Clayton in a diverse field. Little-engine-that-could Juno, which cracked the $100 million box-office threshold over the weekend, joins those four on the ballot for Best Picture.

This is supposedly a bad time for movies, but scanning through the Academy Awards' history, there probably hasn't been a stronger slate of Best Picture nominees since the mid-'70s. And, with Michael Clayton re-released, There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men expanding to more theaters, and Juno still going strong, you can see them all on the big screen right now.

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