Here's a bet nobody is likely to lose money on: Helen Mirren will be nominated for an Oscar this week for her performance as the Queen. Nothing, in fact, looks likely to derail her progress towards the Academy Award itself.
In fact, it's looking an unusually promising year for Brits. Expect nominations for Stephen Frears for directing The Queen and Peter Morgan for writing it; for Kate Winslet and Judi Dench, both picked by the Screen Actors Guild, whose members usually guide the Academy; and for Peter O'Toole, who has won raves forVenus, and Sacha Baron Cohen, who stole the show at the Golden Globes last week by winning an award and delivering a hilarious speech heavy on male anatomy.
But, come 25 February, nobody other than Mirren is especially fancied to win.
Leonardo DiCaprio could end up with not one but two Oscars - for his leading role in Blood Diamond and his just-short-of-leading role in Martin Scorsese's The Departed. More likely, though, is that Forest Whitaker will win best actor for The Last King of Scotland, and Eddie Murphy will win best supporting actor for Dreamgirls.
Dreamgirls, based loosely on the career of the Supremes, is undoubtedly frontrunner for best picture. But two veteran film-makers will be nipping at its heels. One is Scorsese, whose The Departed is the biggest commercial success of his career. The other is Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima, the second film in his diptych about the fierce battle waged between Japan and the US in the middle of the Pacific. It hasn't attracted much of an audience yet, but it has stunned critics. Most surprising of all, it is in Japanese. Were it to win the Oscar, it would break all sorts of new ground - not least because its director does not speak the language it is made in.
Helen Mirren is about as close as it gets to a sure thing for The Queen, while Stephen Frears may be nominated for directing it and Peter Morgan for writing it. (Morgan may get a second nod for The Last King of Scotland.) Also in best actress category could be Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal and Kate Winslet for Little Children. Best actor might find room for Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat and Peter O'Toole as an ageing actor in Venus.Reuse content