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AT BASE CAMPLOOKING FOR A SHERPA

Mt. Oscar:

To grab the brass ring -- or in this case the Golden O -- wrap yourself in raves and pack lots of buzz. This week's altitude readings are by Times staff writers Susan King, Rene Lynch and Robert W. Welkos.

January 09, 2008

PEAKING

NOT FORGOTTEN: Paul Thomas Anderson dedicated "There Will Be Blood" to the late Robert Altman, a friend and personal influence -- and an academy favorite. Might that earn a few sympathy votes?

CLIMBING

DARING DUO: If the Coen brothers win an Oscar for directing "No Country for Old Men," it will be just the second time a duo has won since Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for 1961's "West Side Story."

AGING WITH GRACE: Ruby Dee and Hal Holbrook could be in a race to be the oldest actor to win an Oscar. Each will be 83 by the time of the awards. The current record holder? Jessica Tandy, who won at 80.

AT BASE CAMP

PLAY NICE: The WGA might be angered if the directors guild isn't strong in its contract talks, led by Gil Cates, who also produces the Oscars, which already isn't getting WGA love: No free use of clips and a writing waiver hanging in the balance.

LESS IS MORE: To campaign or not to campaign? Julie Christie, whose performance in "Away From Her" still has people buzzing, isn't stumping for the vote. Hey, it worked for Scorsese.

LOOKING FOR A SHERPA

THE MUSIC MAN: Even when Clint Eastwood isn't in the running, he's in the running. The director, who didn't release a film in 2007, could well nab an Oscar nomination for his "Grace Is Gone" score.

LEST WE FORGET: Remember how good Chris Cooper was in "Breach"? And Don Cheadle in "Talk to Me"? Robert Downey Jr. in "Zodiac"? Irfan Khan in "A Mighty Heart"? That's all, just wanted you to remember.

CLOTHES MINDED: With "Atonement," "Silk," the "Pirates" movies, "Pride & Prejudice," "King Arthur" and the upcoming "The Duchess," we're ready to see Keira Knightley in modern dress.

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