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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Never too early to predict Oscars
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

The 2008 Academy Awards are four months away, but Hollywood insiders are already tipping which films and stars will be in the running.

Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age (l) and I'm Not There (r)
Will Cate Blanchett be recognised for playing Elizabeth I or Bob Dylan?
With several of the latter appearing in more than one title, though, awards bodies are facing a number of potential headaches.

For example, should they recognise Australian actress Cate Blanchett for her royal role in The Golden Age, which sees her reprise her Oscar-nominated portrayal in 1998's Elizabeth?

Or should they follow the jury at the Venice Film Festival, which chose to reward her uncanny impression of musician Bob Dylan in experimental biopic I'm Not There?

Somewhat controversially, the Venice judges also recognised Brad Pitt for his work in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Some critics, however, believe co-star Casey Affleck - who plays Ford to Pitt's James - gives the better performance in this rather ponderous dissection of western lore.

Grieving father

Will they go head-to-head for the best actor Oscar? Or will Affleck be relegated to the best supporting actor category?

Then again, it is entirely possible Casey will be recognised for Gone Baby Gone, a missing child drama that marks his older brother Ben's directorial debut.

Casey Affleck and Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Affleck (l) and Pitt (r) star in The Assassination of Jesse James...
If so, he and Pitt could find themselves competing against each other for the coveted best actor gong.

Having won a best supporting actor Oscar last year for Syriana, George Clooney could also be up for that prize for playing a conflicted lawyer in Michael Clayton.

Tommy Lee Jones must be considered a contender too for playing a grieving father in Iraq war drama In the Valley of Elah.

Jones might be up for a supporting actor nomination as well for his ageing sheriff role in the Coen brothers' well-regarded thriller, No Country for Old Men.

Among the best actress hopefuls, veteran British actress Julie Christie is generating a lot of buzz for her moving turn as an Alzheimer's sufferer in Away From Her.

So is French actress Marion Cotillard for her epic performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, while Meryl Streep could land yet another nomination - her 15th - for Lions for Lambs.

Robert Redford's political thriller could figure among the best picture candidates, as might Into the Wild - a survivalist drama from fellow actor-turned-director Sean Penn.

British contenders

Penn's film - based on the true story of a young man who went to live alone in the Alaskan wilderness - should land the Oscar-winning actor his first nomination as a director.

Veteran performer Hal Holbrook, meanwhile, is sure to be in line for a supporting actor nod for his affecting turn in the same film as an elderly widower.

Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah (l) and No Country for Old Men (r)
Could previous Oscar-winner Jones be nominated for different films?
British contenders, besides Christie, may include Atonement's James McAvoy, Tom Wilkinson for Michael Clayton and Sacha Baron Cohen for his supporting role in Sweeney Todd.

Hairspray, another musical, could easily land considerations for Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and John Travolta.

In a strong year for male performances, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe could both be shortlisted for Ridley Scott's fact-based crime yarn American Gangster.

And one should not rule out their fellow Oscar recipients Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman, all of whom appear in topical drama Charlie Wilson's War.

With plenty of big films still unseen, though - notably The Golden Compass, based on the first novel in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy - there is still all to play for at this early stage.

SEE ALSO
Iraq invades London Film Festival
13 Sep 07 |  Entertainment
Blanchett wins top Venice award
09 Sep 07 |  Entertainment
Theron 'wants US soldiers home'
01 Sep 07 |  Entertainment
Johnny Depp to play Sweeney Todd
17 Aug 06 |  Entertainment

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