By Michael Slezak
Updated January 22, 2007 at 09:36 PM EST
Credit: Children of Men: Double Negative

Pop-culture addicts (myself included) will be awake, alert, and perhaps a little jittery tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. EDT — anticipating the announcement of this year’s Academy Awards nominees. But in all honesty, I’m feeling slightly ambivalent about the Best Picture race this year, and that’s because my favorite film of 2006 is looking as likely to score a nomination as Sharon Stone for Basic Instinct 2.

Yes, folks, yesterday afternoon, I decided to brave the bitter cold to catch a matinee of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men — and I left the theater wondering how the heck the awards hopes of this harrowing, beautiful film have been drowned out by the buzz surrounding The Departed, Dreamgirls, and Little Miss Sunshine. No knock on those movies, but Cuarón’s vision of a bleak, Orwellian future — in which a wave of infertility has swept the human race, and where paranoia over illegal refugees and shocking blasts of violence are the norm — left me quaking in my stadium seating, a feeling I haven’t quite shaken almost a day later. Not only should the film be up for Oscar’s highest honor, but certainly Cuarón, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and stars Clive Owen, Claire-Hope Ashitey (pictured, with Owen), and Michael Caine (the latter two who manage to bring both humor and tenderness to an otherwise bleak experience) deserve to have their names called tomorrow morning.

Alas, though, whether it’s the unfortunate, abbreviated Oscar-season calendar (discussed at length in the spot-on inaugural edition of Mark Harris’ EW column The Final Cut) or perhaps a botched campaign by Universal, Children of Men doesn’t seem to be on any pundits’ predicted nominations list. But that’s not going to stop me from hoping (for the next 22 hours or so) that somehow, good sense and good taste will prevail, and Children of Men will get its due. Are you with me, PopWatchers? Or is Children of Men simply not worthy? And are there any other off-the-radar films (or performances) you’re hoping will sneak onto the list of nominees tomorrow morning?addCredit(“Little Children of Men: Double Negative”)