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80th Academy Awards 'Best Picture' Spotlight

February 18th, 2008 2:00pm EST
Best Picture nominee AtonementIn just six short days we will see who will walk away with Oscar gold. For the most part, the Oscar nominees were not much of a surprise. With the writers' strike finally over, it looks like we'll get to see our favorite stars walk the red carpet.

Like every year, there are some snubs. James McAvoy (Atonement), Keira Knightley (Atonement), Ryan Gosling (Lars & The Real Girl) and Sweeney Todd (Best Picture) not getting nominations was both surprising and unjustified.

Even though "Sweeney Todd" did not get a nomination for Best Picture, the nominated films are definitely deserving of their nods. This is probably one of the toughest categories of the night. Even though "Atonement" won just about all the awards for Best Picture, it's still anyone's game. Here is a look at the films nominated for Best Picture at the 2008 Oscars:

Atonement
AtonementBased off the Ian McEwan novel, "Atonement" starts off in 1935 where a 13-year-old Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan - who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress) completely changes the course of lives of two people when she accuses her sister's lover of a crime that he did not commit. Briony has a massive crush on Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), the smart son of the family's housekeeper, who is madly in love with Briony's older sister Cecilia (Keira Knightley). Soon after Robbie and Cecilia declare their love for one another, Robbie is arrested for rape. As the years pass, Briony seeks forgiveness for her mistake. Is it too late? Go see the movie, and you'll find out. The book is absolutely amazing and a must-read. The cinematography on this film is breathtaking. As for acting, Ronan stole the spotlight. Why this cast hasn't won more awards as an ensemble is beyond me.

Juno
JunoAfter taking three pregnancy tests, Juno (Ellen Page) learns that her Ego is Prego and now this 16-year-old high school student must decide what to do. After learning that the baby has fingernails, she decides to keep it and give it up for adoption. Juno got pregnant her friend, the cheese to her macaroni, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). With the help of her best friend Leah (Olivia Thilby), Juno searches for the best parents to adopt her unborn baby. Juno finds the perfect couple in the Penny Saver who she thinks will be the best match. Juno's father, Mac (J.K. Simmons), takes her to meet Mark and Vanessa Loring (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) to finalize the adoption arrangements. At first glance Mark seems to be a free spirited, easy-going guy, while Vanessa is an uptight businesswoman. Juno is a smart laugh-out-loud comedy about confronting an unplanned pregnancy and watching Juno as she tries to enter into adulthood and figure out where she belongs.

Michael Clayton
Michael ClaytonMichael Clayton is a dramatic law thriller that stars George Clooney, who also co-produced the film, as an attorney at a prestigious law firm in New York City. Clooney plays a "fixer," which is someone who "fixes" difficult situations. He arranges top-flight legal services and skirts through loopholes for ethically questionable clients. But when a fellow "fixer" decides to turn on the very firm they were hired to clean up for, Clayton finds himself at the center of a conspiratorial maelstrom. As Michael tries to fix the damage that's been done, he realizes this might be a crisis that he can't fix.

No Country For Old Men
No Country For Old MenThis film follows the lives of three main characters, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). Llewelyn, a Vietnam vet, finds $2 million as he wanders through the aftermath of a drug deal gone horribly wrong near the Mexican-American border in southwest Texas. Money wasn't the only thing he found. Next to the large amount of cash was a whole lot of heroin in the back of the vehicle. A killer, who likes to flip a coin to determine the fate of his victims, is on a mission to find Moss. Meanwhile, Sheriff Bell (Jones) struggles to get rid of the violence that seems to be taking over the once-peaceful town.

There Will Be Blood
There Will Be BloodThere will be blood is loosely based off the Upton Sinclair novel "Oil!." The main focus of the film is on Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) who after failing as a silver miner happens to find black gold during a terrible excavation, which ends in a broken leg. Plainview embarks on a plan to master the oil business. Accompanied by his young son, H.W. (Dillon Freasier), Plainview starts a campaign to convince small-town property owners that they should allow him to drill their land. As his power grows, he becomes obsessed and paranoid. In order for Plainview to reap the benefits of the land, he has to suffer the opposing whims of the "prophet," Eli Sunday (Pal Dano).

It's going to be a tight race between these five movies, but if I were to predict who will win, I'd have to go with "Atonement." It won the top prize at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTAs) earlier this month and claimed "Best Drama" at the Golden Globe Awards in January. "Atonement" was easily one of the best films of the year, and the cast does an outstanding job in bringing the Ian McEwan novel to life.

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The 80th Academy Awards airs Feb. 24 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Story by Angie Rentmeester
Starpulse.com contributing writer