2008 Golden Globes nominees

“American Gangster”
“Atonement”
“Eastern Promises”
“The Great Debaters”
“Michael Clayton”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”

The drama category’s packed with seven nominations, two more than the traditional five. Cynics will say the HFPA cast a wide net to catch the most stars for the (now-canceled) ceremony, but kinder souls will acknowledge a large group of fine films the org must have had trouble narrowing down.

With seven nominations altogether, “Atonement” — with its Brit lit pedigree, topnotch cast and epic, but not too epic, sweep — looks to be the favorite, but pic has not turned out to be the kudos juggernaut perceived a couple months ago, leaving room for fare like “No Country for Old Men” to possibly sneak in. The HFPA is not known for its affinity for the Coens but with critical drive behind it this film — mature, frightening, nihilistic, with nary a trace of snark — could be the ticket for the brothers.

With GG fave George Clooney and a somewhat anticapitalist-pigs message, “Michael Clayton” could capture more than a few votes, although material’s lack of true edge could deter any foreign socialists in the group from committing.

Crix’ pick “There Will Be Blood” seems a less mainstream choice than winner “Babel” last year. “Gladiator” took home the GG for drama, but Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” does not seem to have the momentum of that sword-and-sandals hit. “The Great Debaters” and “Eastern Promises” — despite big stars, star directors, serious subject matter and, in the case of “Promises,” a foreign setting — also don’t seem to be working up momentum in this crowded field.

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