"I think Marion Cotillard deserves to win," Vecchiarelli said. "There was something unsurprising about the fact that Julie Christie did a great job in her role."
Nominees: Casey Affleck ("The Assassination of Jesse James"), Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War"), Hal Holbrook ("Into the Wild"), Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton")
Who will win: Javier Bardem
Who should win: Javier Bardem
Just as Daniel Day-Lewis is a lock for best actor, Javier Bardem's almost certain to score the best supporting actor Oscar. Since "No Country for Old Men" is a virtual shoo-in for best picture, it makes sense that the Academy would honor the actor who delivered the most memorable performance.
"It will and should go to Javier Bardem," Vecchiarelli said. "He's really respected in the industry and hasn't gotten that much attention. This movie has finally opened him up to a broader audience, and the performance was so amazing. It was dark; it was a pretty difficult feat to pull off."
The one man who could steal Bardem's thunder? Eighty-three-year-old Hal Holbrook from Sean Penn's "Into the Wild," a film critics said was overlooked by the Academy.
"This would be the way to let 'Into the Wild' have its moment," Vecchiarelli said.
Nominees: Cate Blanchett ("I'm Not There"), Ruby Dee ("American Gangster"), Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement"), Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone"), Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton")
Who will win: Anyone's guess
Who should win: Amy Ryan
If there's one Oscar race with no clear winner, it's best supporting actress.
"People really love Cate Blanchett in 'I'm Not There,' and I think it's amazing that she transformed into a man so perfectly," said Goldstein. "Amy Ryan in 'Gone Baby Gone' is probably the critics' favorite. She's won more critics' awards than anyone but not a ton of people have seen that movie."
"Ruby Dee won the SAG award for 'American Gangster' -- again, she's a sentimental favorite, very well regarded in the community and has never won before," he continued. "Then you have Tilda Swinton, who's gained momentum with the re-release of 'Michael Clayton.' It's more of a toss-up than any other category."
But because Ryan has won recognition from more than a dozen critics' associations -- including the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association -- Vecchiarelli said the statue should be hers.
"It should absolutely go to Amy Ryan," she said. "I don't think you can exactly compare anyone's performance to Amy's."
Nominees: Julian Schnabel ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"), Jason Reitman ("Juno"), Tony Gilroy ("Michael Clayton"), Joel and Ethan Coen ("No Country for Old Men"), Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will Be Blood")
Who will win: Joel and Ethan Coen
Who should win: Joel and Ethan Coen
The Coen brothers have been putting out some of Hollywood's most buzzed-about movies for more than two decades -- including "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski" and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" -- and critics agree "No Country for Old Men" is their most Oscar-worthy film yet.
"For the same reasons that I think 'No Country for Old Men' will take best picture, the Coen brothers will take best director," Vecchiarelli said. "I don't think that the competition is nearly as stiff as in other categories or in years past. To see the Coen brothers up there onstage is something that would be really satisfying to everybody. It just seems like this is their moment."
But the brothers may have a foil in Julian Schnabel, director of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," about a stroke victim who can communicate only by blinking his left eyelid. Schnabel was honored for his efforts by the Directors Guild of America in January.
"Julian Schnabel would be a dark horse," Goldstein said. "People are impressed with how he took a story that's really difficult to put onscreen and did it in a unique way."