Who's up

Following the example of producer/star David Letterman, studio chief/star Tom Cruise has struck a deal with striking writers, giving United Artists a competitive advantage over its rivals. Unlike Letterman, who shed his beard to celebrate the settlement, Cruise remains married to Katie Holmes.

Who's down

Once considered a lock for a Best Picture Oscar nomination, "Atonement" has more or less imploded during the early run of awards shows. The year's literary, English-accented, period costume-drama awards-bait epic by "Pride & Prejudice" director Joe Wright got no love at last week's Critics' Choice awards. As it sputtered, the surviving Oscar candidates are "No Country for Old Men," "Juno" and "There Will Be Blood," and possibly "Sweeney Todd," with "American Gangster," "Hairspray," "The Savages" or "Into the Wild" battling for a dark horse slot.

COLIN COVERT