The political and internecine nature of the recent critics awards (plus the National Board of Review awards last Wednesday) was discussed by The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil and myself during a podcast recording last night.

We speculated that the L.A. Film Critics didn’t give their Best Picture award yesterday to the generally favored No Country for Old Men because (a) they didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of the despised National Board of Review, which gave its Best Picture award to No Country last Wednesday, or (b) knowing that No Country had the most headwind, the LAFCA-ers decided that There Will Be Blood (which they gave their Best Picture award to) needed their help more than the Coen Brothers and Miramax did.

In his description of our chat, O’Neil writes that “you’ll hear us laughing over the possibility that the New Yorker critics may now feel free to pick No Country on Monday since the Hollywooders didn’t do so on Sunday (the two groups admit that they try to avoid rubber-stamping each other). But if No Country fares poorly in the NYFCC voting, then…award pundits are just wrong about how the typical critic feels about that Coen brothers pic.”

I don’t agree on this point. AMPAS, HFPA and guild-wise, No Country for Old Men is a more palatable, kind-hearted and less abrasive experience than There Will Be Blood. Add this to its Best Picture critics tally so far and the Coen Bros. pic enjoys a close-to-frontrunner status right now, which is a better place to be than being a flat-out frontrunner, which nobody wants to be until early January.

I asked O’Neil what had happened to Sidney Lumet‘s Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, as it seems to have dropped off radar screens. One reason, he said, was that it wasn’t being promoted as heavily as it needed to be by ThinkFilm. Today’s New York Film Critics Circle voting, he said, is a last-chance, do-or-die situation for the Lumet film. If it’s chosen as Best Picture or one of its actors takes an award, fine…back in the game. But if nothing happens, it’ll be adios amigos and “that’s all she wrote.”