The Academy Awards are only ten days away. But is anyone paying attention? With the gloom of the soon to be resolved writer’s strike and the “historic” Presidential election on the radar, the Oscars are getting buried in the public consciousness. Well, let’s see what we can do to change that now.

If you follow the conventional wisdom, this thing is all but in the bag for “No Country For Old Men.” It’s won the Producer’s Guild, Director’s Guild, Screen Actor’s Guild, and Writer’s Guild awards. A clean sweep. The last previous film to do this was “Return of the King” and we all know how that turned out. However, we also remember the last time a “western” was in the driver’s seat heading into Oscar night. That didn’t quite go exactly as planned, as Ang Lee will surely tell you. “No Country” looks solid, but there is still hope for the rest of the field. Let’s size up the contenders.

“There Will Be Blood”

For It: It’s got 8 nominations, the same number as “No Country.” It’s peaking late and some are hailing it as a masterpiece comparable to “Citizen Kane.” It’s got the year’s most memorable movie quote “I drink your milkshake. I drink it up!” It’s slow and dark like “No Country,” but it has more of an epic feel and also more pure emotional power.

Against It: The ending. It was awful. Voters may feel the movie is predominantly about Daniel Day-Lewis’ mesmerizing performance and that awarding him Best Actor is enough.

“Michael Clayton”

For It: Everyone still loves George Clooney, and this IS his movie. The performances are great and it has an important message about corporate responsibility and personal morality. It hasn’t won anything yet, so the Oscars have the opportunity to “be different.”

Against It: It hasn’t won anything yet. Maybe there is a reason for that.

“Atonement”

For It: It’s the kind of yearning, romantic epic that Oscar traditionally adores. It won Best Picture at the BAFTAs AND The Golden Globes. Take a look at past winners of Golden Globe drama. They actually do match up decently with Best Picture. Focus Features has run a good campaign and if “Blood and “No Country” split the vote, someone has to benefit, right?

Against It: No nomination for Best Director. Only one film has ever won Best Picture without it. Mixed critical reviews, premised on the fact that many people felt the book was a lot more emotional and deep.

“Juno”

For It: It’s got heart. It makes you feel warm and inspired. “Little Miss Sunshine” was a film about outcasts beloved by mostly outcasts. In “Juno,” there’s a character almost everyone can relate to. It’s got a Best Director nomination. The box office has soared beyond $100 million. There’s the feeling Ellen Page cannot beat Julie Christie, so where else can the Academy award this film outside of original screenplay?

Against It: It’s a comedy, still. When’s the last time a comedy won?

So there you have it. But of course, this analysis is not complete with examining the frontrunner itself. “No Country For Old Men” is a solid, stylish piece of film-making. It features stellar performances, edge of your seat suspense, unpredictability, and it’s ten times better than anything the Coen brothers have ever done. But is that enough?

Something about the movie just doesn’t feel right. It’s incredibly violent. Will the Academy honor another bloody movie a mere year after “The Departed?” The movie is really simple. Sure, that’s part of its beauty, but it also differentiates it from previous Best Picture winners where characters show more complex human emotions and change, for better or worse. “No Country” is best remembered for Javier Bardem’s terrifying turn as the killer Anton Chigurh. When all is said and done, could the Academy just honor the film for that, and move on to more “important” things? Finally, there’s the ending, which like “Blood,” is depressing, boring, and anticlimatic.

Well, there is still time for voters to turn in their ballots and time to analyze. It will be a closer race than a lot of people predict. Stay tuned as we’ll start offering our predictions in the days to come.