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The Oscar Playing Field Is Even

Queen_1 Nobody knows what will happen in the Best Picture category on Oscar night. I'm guessing The Departed is ahead of Little Miss Sunshine by a hair, and EW's Dave Karger agrees with me . While many Oscar prognosticators insist that Little Miss Sunshine is weak because it lacks a director nomination, or that Babel is strong because it has the most nominations (seven), I maintain that there is real affection for Little Miss Sunshine, which could win Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor, that Babel will likely win Score, that The Queen will win Helen Mirren, and that The Departed will win Director and Adapted Screenplay. This is the most even playing field in years!

The dominant actors' branch supports the three top contenders. The directors' branch is small, so that's irrelevant, really. The writers' branch is large, so Arndt's likely win is significant. The mainstream of the Academy may prefer scale and scope over an unassuming family comedy, but Babel is polyglot and not a mainstream movie, and the Departed is a remake and a violent genre film. But it's a very popular hit. Some of these best picture contenders could win one or two or three awards and that's it! There is no dominant player.

Here's today's round-up of Oscar stories:


The Gurus o' Gold have voted. When filling out your office pool Oscar ballots, this isn't a bad place to look.

Roger Ebert's take on the Oscar race.

Stephen Schaefer announces next year's Best Actress contender, Marion Cotillard, for her performance in LA Vie en Rose (or La Mome) as Edith Piaf. New Yorkers can get an advance peek at the movie (which opens June 8) during the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Rendezvous with French Cinema, starting February 28.

UPDATE: The NYT reviews (briefly) the Oscar-nominated shorts.

Edward Copeland gets his facts from the Academy, as he sets the record straight on some pesky Oscar issues.


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