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THE ENVELOPE

The Unofficial Play-at-home Oscar Buzzmeter Ballot

February 21, 2007

BEST MOVIE

"Babel"

"The Departed"

"Letters From Iwo Jima"

"Little Miss Sunshine"

"The Queen"

THE BUZZ: This one's a classic Oscar cliffhanger. Most pundits say it's Abby versus Goliath (oops, "Little Miss Sunshine" versus "The Departed"), but "Babel" or "Letters From Iwo Jima" (Ken Watanabe, above) could upset because they have the Big Message. "The Queen" abdicates.

BEST DIRECTOR

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Babel"

Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"

Clint Eastwood, "Letters From Iwo Jima"

Stephen Frears, "The Queen"

Paul Greengrass, "United 93"

THE BUZZ: Again it's supposed to be Scorsese's (above) year, except past spoiler and academy favorite Eastwood is back. Frears, Greengrass and Gonzalez Inarritu are mere observers like the rest of us.

BEST ACTOR

Leonardo DiCaprio, "Blood Diamond"

Ryan Gosling, "Half Nelson"

Peter O'Toole, "Venus"

Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness"

Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"

THE BUZZ: The front-runner is early awards-sweeper Whitaker (above) but villain roles rarely win. That's good news for long overdue O'Toole as late support builds fast for him. DiCaprio got nominated for the wrong film and Smith and Gosling are bench warmers.

BEST ACTRESS

Penelope Cruz, "Volver"

Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal"

Helen Mirren, "The Queen"

Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"

Kate Winslet, "Little Children"

THE BUZZ: "Queen" Mirren (above) rules and will probably break the losing streak of actresses over 50. But beware: Streep and Dench are strong contenders. If the voting leans younger, it'll be Winslet over Cruz.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin, "Little Miss Sunshine"

Jackie Earle Haley, "Little Children"

Djimon Hounsou, "Blood Diamond"

Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"

Mark Wahlberg, "The Departed"

THE BUZZ: Oscar's Veteran Achievement Award has three strong rivals. It's a tossup: Murphy (above), Arkin and Haley. Hounsou could upset. Wahlberg is just happy he got in, especially since Jack Nicholson didn't.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Adriana Barraza, "Babel"

Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"

Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"

Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"

Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel"

THE BUZZ: Hudson (above) looks like a lock, but voters love art-house underdogs (remember Brenda Fricker?). That's Barraza this year. But they're also suckers for adorable girls (remember Anna Paquin?). That's Abigail.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

"Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer; story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Peter Baynham & Anthony Hines & Todd Phillips

"Children of Men," Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby

"The Departed," William Monahan

"Little Children," Todd Field, Tom Perrotta

"Notes on a Scandal," Patrick Marber

THE BUZZ: If "The Departed" (Jack Nicholson, left, and Leonardo DiCaprio in photo above) wins best picture, it has the edge. The wildcard is "Borat." Everyone wants to see that acceptance speech. "Notes on a Scandal" and "Little Children" have literary appeal. "Children of Men" has zealous supporters.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

"Babel," Guillermo Arriaga

"Letters From Iwo Jima," Iris Yamashita; story by Iris Yamashita and Paul Haggis

"Little Miss Sunshine," Michael Arndt

"Pan's Labyrinth," Guillermo del Toro

"The Queen," Peter Morgan

THE BUZZ: "The Queen" and "Little Miss Sunshine" seem to be ahead for this best picture consolation prize. Secret passionate support for "Pan's Labyrinth" could trigger an upset, even though it's in Spanish. "Babel" (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, above) has its boosters but "Iwo Jima" has little chance.

ANIMATED FEATURE

"Cars," John Lasseter

"Happy Feet," George Miller

"Monster House," Gil Kenan

THE BUZZ: "Cars" has a good shot, given past Pixar wins ("The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo") plus most of the early awards. "Happy Feet" has a later release, warm fuzzies and, yes, those huggable penguins. Voters tend to flee horror flicks, even funny ones ("Monster House").

ART DIRECTION

"Dreamgirls," art direction, John Myhre; set decoration, Nancy Haigh

"The Good Shepherd," art direction, Jeannine Oppewall; set decoration, Gretchen Rau and Leslie E. Rollins

"Pan's Labyrinth," art direction, Eugenio Caballero; set decoration, Pilar Revuelta

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," art direction, Rick Heinrichs; set decoration, Cheryl Carasik

"The Prestige," art direction, Nathan Crowley; set decoration, Julie Ochipinti

CINEMATOGRAPHY

"The Black Dahlia," Vilmos Zsigmond

"Children of Men," Emmanuel Lubezki

"The Illusionist," Dick Pope

"Pan's Labyrinth," Guillermo Navarro

"The Prestige," Wally Pfister

COSTUME DESIGN

"Curse of the Golden Flower," Yee Chung Man

"The Devil Wears Prada," Patricia Field

"Dreamgirls," Sharen Davis

"Marie Antoinette," Milena Canonero

"The Queen," Consolata Boyle

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

"Deliver Us From Evil," Amy Berg and Frank Donner

"An Inconvenient Truth," Davis Guggenheim

"Iraq in Fragments," James Longley and John Sinno

"Jesus Camp," Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

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