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Last Updated: Friday, 26 January 2007, 15:06 GMT
Oscars panel: Sarah Griffin
Oscar continues to head steadily down the path of least resistance, with Mel Gibson noticeably absent from the best foreign language film shortlist.

Besides the neglect of Mel (who could scoop that best make-up statue and take over the podium yet!), the nominations held few genuine bombshells.

Best picture includes the wonderful Little Miss Sunshine, which I consider an extremely strong candidate.

MEET THE PANEL
Sarah Griffin
Name: Sarah Griffin
Age: 24
Occupation: Civil servant
Nationality: Irish
Lives: Donard, County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland
Favourite film: "The Godfather for perfection in script, direction and acting, and The Big Lebowski for all the above, coupled with laugh-out-loud brilliance!"

Scorsese is preferred for best director, and his biggest competition is no longer Dirty Harry, but Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu.

Finally naming Scorsese best director will put the Academy's mind at ease, and allow them to be more benevolent in the best picture category.

This should see the uplifting Little Miss Sunshine in prime position.

The best actor group could be an apple-cart waiting for an upset, after the initial certainty surrounding Forest Whitaker's chances.

Peter O'Toole, 'always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride', could tug on Oscar's heartstrings and finally bag a statue.

But I imagine Forest's biggest competition is Leonardo DiCaprio, who has delivered two outstanding performances this year.

As predicted, Helen Mirren leads the chase on the women's side of things. Judi and Meryl are both such Oscar regulars that their nominations are more club handshakes than realistic runners.

Though I adore Kate Winslet, Little Children really isn't the movie to carry her home a statue.

Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine
If right was right, the beautiful Abigail Breslin would be walking away with the statue

Ditto Volver, which was great, but Penelope Cruz is just too pretty for Oscar to take seriously... maybe she should consider a prosthetic nose rather than rear padding for next year!

The supporting male section is a fantastic mix, with Djimon Hounsou the frontrunner, but Alan Arkin's quiet assurance capable of carrying him through.

Over to supporting women, and I think Babel will have to win this one - whether it's for Adriana Barraza or Rinko Kikuchi remains to be seen. My guess would be that the older and 'wiser' Adriana, an acting coach, might be the one to win out.

If right was right, the beautiful Abigail Breslin would be walking away with the statue, but the Academy may feel that the nomination is kudos enough.

This year's selection doesn't really rock the boat, but there is still that tangible sense of mystery - it's anybody's game at this stage.



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