By Iain Blair

Feb 20, Reuters

LOS ANGELES - Maybe it was the crippling writers' strike or the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or was it something in the expensive bottled water in Beverly Hills where Oscar organizers are based.

Whatever it is, Hollywood's on a big downer these days, and this year's nominations for the world's top film honors, the Oscars, reflect the somber mood that has blanketed Tinseltown.

Want betrayal, revenge, doomed love, murder and despair? Go see best film nominees "No Country for Old Men," "Atonement," "Michael Clayton" and "There Will Be Blood"?

Prefer paralysis and disease? Try "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," which earned Julian Schnabel a best director nod, or documentary nominee "SiCKO" from director Michael Moore.

Howard Suber, founding chair of UCLA's Film and Television Producers Program and author of "The Power of Film," said he has never seen a bleaker view of human nature in a group of films since the French cinema of the 1960s.

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photo: A line of Oscar statuettes can be seen at a "Meet The Oscars" display in Times Square, New York February 15, 2008 (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)