One of the most intriguing storylines of the year is, oddly enough, in the sound category. In case you haven’t heard, sound mixer Kevin O’Connell has been nominated twenty (20!) times for sound and NEVER won. Yup, he is the Susan Lucci and Buffalo Bills of the Oscars. The problem is, past nominations have usually been for films which were heavy underdogs coming in. Word to the wise for sound technicians with golden dreams – find out where Peter Jackson lives.

This year, Kevin O’Connell is up for the massive summer blockbuster “Transformers.” If you believe most web predictors, as of now, “Transformers” is in the driver’s seat. And why not? It’s big, it’s popular, and in terms of sound, it’s loud. “Transformers” would fit into the mold of past winners such as “King Kong,” The Matrix,” and “Terminator 2.” It’s also got nods in sound editing and visual effects, another positive sign since the three awards often go together. So should Mr. O’Connell start preparing an acceptance speech? Not so fast…

There’s an 800 pound gorilla lurking nearby. That’s right. You can’t stop what’s coming.

A few days ago, “No Country For Old Men” won the sound award from the Cinema Audio Society. Now, while the CAS doesn’t have the best track record with matching up to Oscar, it is still a meaningful precursor. Add to the equation the fact that “No Country: has the look of a Best Picture winner and there’s more cause for concern. Past Best Picture winners “Chicago,” The English Patient,” “Gladiator,” and “Lord of the Rings” all captured Best Sound. Hmmm.

One more factor to consider. “The Bourne Ultimatum,” a bona fide summer hit also got nominated in this category, so if voters split between the two blockbusters, is that yet another reason for a “No Country” win?

Oscar Frenzy is not quite ready to call this category yet, but we’re keeping a close eye. The positives for O’Connell is that he’s getting a lot of publicity for his infamous streak, but how sympathetic are voters really going to be? Will they see his name, or will they only see the film’s?

We do have one prediction to pass along to you. O’Connell’s film “Transformers” will take home the visual effects award. You can bet the house on that.