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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 15:08 GMT
Oscars panel: Dieter Rogiers
The times they are a-changin'. They must be.

How else do you explain the surprisingly refreshing diversity on this year's Oscar nominee list?

Sure, glamorous musical Dreamgirls tops them all in nods, but it is absent from the big three races: script, director and, most tellingly, film.

Instead we get recognition for numerous African-Americans, a stunning Japanese performance and a plethora of Mexicans.

MEET THE PANEL
Dieter Rogiers
Name: Dieter Rogiers
Age: 28
Occupation: Screenwriter
Nationality: Belgian
Lives: Dilsen-Stokkem, Belgium
Favourite film: "The list is endless, but I'll always have a soft spot for The Apartment, The Third Man, The Conversation and Bambi."

Even the so-called technical categories have bucked the odds, choosing quality over 'buzz', and the nominations for cinematographers, costume designers and sound men spread the wealth among master craftsmen.

Academy members embraced the dark and the serious this time around, for the second year running.

The only movie in the main bunch that can be considered feel-good is Little Miss Sunshine. And even that one has drug abuse, suicide and professional failure at its core.

I'm not complaining though. With Dreamgirls out of the way, Little Miss's chances of claiming the big prize will surge. Here's hoping it prevails, despite the director's snub.

Critical darlings also had a good showing. Pan's Labyrinth - an intriguing film but a flawed one - suddenly appears the frontrunner to take foreign language since the vanishing of Volver.

Children of Men really should win cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki is a mighty fine lenser.

And how about Borat's showing for adapted screenplay? Nice! It almost makes up for Sacha Baron Cohen missing out on an actor nom.

Mark Wahlberg in The Departed
My heart goes out to the man charged with selecting a Mark Wahlberg clip suitable for broadcasting

Though the Academy mostly got it right this year - I'm so glad Paul Greengrass, Abigail Breslin and Rinko Kikuchi got in - there are some glaring omissions.

Actors Steve Carell and Paul Dano should have been there for Little Miss Sunshine. The lack of noms for Casino Royale is a disgrace.

And poor Paul Verhoeven. I so hoped his Black Book would make the cut.

But it's no use crying over spilt milk.

Film studios can start campaigning for their favourites now. Academy members will get their ballots in the post within the week. The nominees ought to schedule dress fittings soon.

And my heart goes out to the man charged with selecting a Mark Wahlberg clip from The Departed suitable for pre-watershed broadcasting.

But, let's not forget: the frontrunners now could be last by the end. For the times they are a-changin'.



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