Zwecker's early Oscar picks

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By BILL ZWECKER
Sun-Times Columnist
It’s only October, but as usual, the annual guessing game is starting for likely Academy Award nominations. Even though some of the films and performances considered likely Oscar contenders won’t open widely until late this year — or even early in 2007 — here’s what Hollywood insiders tell me is the current buzz:

It could be a big night for “The Departed? — finally breaking director Martin Scorsese’s “Oscar curse? and handing best actor trophies either to Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon or Mark Wahlberg. At the same time, Forest Whitaker’s channeling of Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland? or Peter O’Toole’s star turn in “Venus? could land either of them the best actor honor.

The two 9/11 films have people talking — with best picture nods possible for both “World Trade Center? and “United 93? and possible director and actor nods going to Oliver Stone and Michael Pena.

The big musical entry should be “Dreamgirls,? based on the Broadway show, which could garner nominations for both best picture and supporting performances by Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.

Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers? is a shoo-in for a slew of nominations that could include best picture, another toast to Eastwood’s direction and the supporting role of Adam Beach.

Not only does Helen Mirren’s amazing re-creation of Queen Elizabeth II have her topping the best actress category — the film could also snare nominations for picture, director (Stephen Frears) and supporting actor (Michael Sheen as Tony Blair).

The upcoming “Bobby? — with intersecting stories tied to Robert Kennedy’s assassination — has many people talking Oscar, with kudos for director Emilio Estevez and supporting performances from Chicagoan Freddy Rodriguez, Demi Moore and Sharon Stone.

Other names flying around as best actress possibilities include Penelope Cruz (“Volver?), Nicole Kidman (“Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus?), Annette Bening (“Running With Scissors?), Meryl Streep (“The Devil Wears Prada?), Kate Winslet (“The Little Children?) and possibly Kirsten Dunst for “Marie Antoinette.?

Meanwhile, the first actual film awards for the year have been handed out. The Hollywood Awards gave best acting prizes to Whitaker and Cruz, with Ben Affleck (“Hollywoodland?) and Sandra Bullock (“Infamous?) taking home supporting honors.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on October 26, 2006 11:13 AM.

Let the handicapping begin! A first look at the contenders was the previous entry in this blog.

Grammy picks ... already? is the next entry in this blog.

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