The Oscars: Who Will Win vs. Who Should Win

So maybe you, like much of the country, didn't see many of the films up for Oscars this Sunday.

But that doesn't mean you're not itching to know who's going to win, right?

With the writers' strike a mere memory and preparations for the Academy Awards zooming full speed ahead, speculation about who will take home the coveted golden statuettes is running rampant. And this year many of the most-deserving candidates are also the most likely to take home the awards.

Check out what critics had to say about who will win versus who should win in each of the six major categories.

Best Picture

Nominees: "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood," "Atonement," "Juno"

Who will win: "No Country for Old Men"

Who should win: "No Country for Old Men"

"No Country for Old Men," the Coen brothers' epic about a drug deal gone wrong in the badlands of Texas, is virtually a lock for the biggest award of the year.

Nominated for eight Oscars, the film already scored two Golden Globes and recognition from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review and the Toronto Film Critics Association. The only film that may have a chance of ousting "No Country" is "Atonement," the kind of quintessential British period drama known for making Academy voters swoon.

"It seems like a lot of people are on the same page for 'No Country for Old Men,'" said Nicole Vecchiarelli, entertainment director of Details magazine. "I've been surprised about the momentum that the film has gotten because it's an edgier choice. But I don't think anyone would deny that it's deserved."

Best Actor

Nominees: George Clooney ("Michael Clayton"), Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"), Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"), Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah"), Viggo Mortensen ("Eastern Promises")

Who will win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Who should win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Another category with little disagreement: best actor. Daniel Day-Lewis is favored to pick up the statue for his portrayal of a turn-of-the-20th-century oil magnate in "There Will Be Blood." Day-Lewis, who won a best actor Oscar for 1989's "My Left Foot," has won BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards for "There Will Be Blood."

"He is an actor's actor -- a true professional who's not a celebrity," Vecchiarelli said. "I would be shocked if he didn't win."

Best Actress

Nominees: Julie Christie ("Away from Her"), Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth: The Golden Age"), Marion Cotillard ("La Vie En Rose"), Laura Linney ("The Savages"), Ellen Page ("Juno")

Who will win: Julie Christie

Who should win: Marion Cotillard

Veterans and newcomers crowd the best actress field, and the vote for who will win versus who should win is split between the two. Julie Christie, 66, holds Hollywood's respect for her roles in classics like 1965's "Doctor Zhivago" and 1963's "Darling," for which she won a best actress Oscar. Her performance in "Away From You" may sway the Academy to give her another.

"People in the industry think it's a terrific role, a terrific performance," said Gregg Goldstein, film reporter for The Hollywood Reporter. "They feel like she deserves it because of her career."

But French newcomer Marion Cotillard, 32, wowed critics with her poignant portrayal of Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose" and in January scored the best actress Golden Globe for the role.

"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."

Best Supporting Actor

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.

Best Supporting Actress

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."

Best Director

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."