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Last Updated: Monday, 17 November, 2003, 17:11 GMT
Mystic River is Oscar 'favourite'
Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn in Mystic River
Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn star in Mystic River
Clint Eastwood's acclaimed movie Mystic River has been tipped as an early Oscar favourite by US film critics, according to reports.

LA Times critic Patrick Goldstein has put the thriller favourite to win best picture at 6-1, reports The Guardian.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, the final film in the trilogy, is his second favourite at 8-1.

Emmanuel Levy, author of Oscar Fever, predicted nominations for Master and Commander and Mystic River.

Mr Levy, a film critic for Variety newspaper, also predicted best actor nominations for Bill Murray for Lost in Translation, Tom Cruise for The Last Samurai, and Russell Crowe for Master and Commander.

Outside bets

The best actress title could be fought between Naomi Watts for 21 Grams and Gywneth Paltrow for Sylvia, according to Mr Levy.

Finding Nemo
Recent hit Finding Nemo has an outside chance of best picture success
Mr Goldstein's third favourite to win best picture is director Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain, starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law.

His outside bets include the animated Finding Nemo, The House of Sand and Fog, starring Sir Ben Kingsley, Master and Commander and The Last Samurai.

Mr Levy told The Guardian he predicted big-budget epics "would stage a big comeback" during the awards season.

Older voters

Mr Goldstein also predicted it would be the year of the blockbuster, with smaller films struggling because the Academy voting pool was older than in previous years.

There has already been a long-running row about next year's voting, following the Motion Picture Association of America's (MPAA) decision to ban preview DVD tapes being sent to voters.

Protesters feared this would jeopardise the chances of smaller, independent films because voters would not have time to go and see all the films eligible.

The ban was overturned for preview tapes or DVDs to be sent to Oscar voters but not for other awards, leading some organisations such as the LA Film Critics' Association to cancel its annual prize-giving in protest.

Eastwood's River is riveting
20 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
Eastwood's thriller opens festival
03 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
LA critics pull plug on awards
20 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
Academy Awards DVD ban lifted
24 Oct 03  |  Entertainment

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