“It’s too early to be talking about potential Oscar nominees,” says Arkansas Democrat Gazette film critic Philip Martin.  While not in the business of making predictions, Martin notes, “I’ll say right now that Martin Scorsese deserves to win a Best Director Oscar for The Departed.  I’ve seen that film, reviewed it, and I can vouch for its quality.  But I’ll also say that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu deserves to win for Babel, Pedro Almodovar deserves to win for Volver, and Todd Field deserves to win for Little Children. . . “

“Right now, my favorite film is The Departed,” he says. 

He notes the same problem when talking about potential acting awards.  “. . . if you ask me, the Best Actor award goes to Forest Whitaker for his eerily empathetic portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland. . . There’s a moral component to Whitaker’s performance that raises it above all the other excellent performances I’ve seen this year.”

Martin likes Penelope Cruz over Kate Winslet, but admits that he hasn’t seen the widely praised The Queen starring Helen Mirren. 

“We’ll get back to this topic later – no doubt we’ll revisit it several times before we’re finally done with it at the end of February.”

No doubt.