Dave Karger
November 10, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

Best Picture

Critics were divided, to say the least, but the international tragedy has the emotional power — and the star power — to go the distance.

The Departed
It came into theaters as just a crowd-pleasing thriller. But more than $100 million (and fabulous reviews) later, it’s also an Oscar front-runner.

Sure, hardly anyone has seen more than 20 minutes. But the sassy musical is the perfect antidote to all the tougher stuff in this race.

Flags of Our Fathers
The Good Shepherd
Little Children
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Long Shots
Blood Diamond
The Good German
Stranger Than Fiction

Best Director

Bill Condon
The two-time screenplay nominee (including a win for Gods and Monsters) is the creative force behind the eye-popping musical.

Clint Eastwood
Flags of Our Fathers
After the Oscar success of 2003’s Mystic River and 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, the Academy has simply become the Cult of Clint.

Martin Scorsese
The Departed
Oscar’s perennial also-ran, with five directing nods and no wins, is going the stealth-campaign route this time…which could pay off.

Pedro AlmodóvarVolver
Todd FieldLittle Children
Alejandro González IñárrituBabel
Stephen FrearsThe Queen
Steven SoderberghThe Good German

Long Shots
Robert AltmanA Prairie Home Companion
Robert De NiroThe Good Shepherd
Marc ForsterStranger Than Fiction
Paul GreengrassUnited 93
Oliver StoneWorld Trade Center

Best Actor

Peter O’Toole
Forty-four years after his first Best Actor nomination (for Lawrence of Arabia), the 74-year-old will earn his eighth nod.

Will Smith
The Pursuit of Happyness
Smith’s unemployed yet ambitious dad (a real-life character to boot) has Oscar written all over it.

Forest Whitaker
The Last King of Scotland
A towering performance as Ugandan president Idi Amin will land the veteran actor his first-ever nomination.


Matt DamonThe Good Shepherd
Leonardo DiCaprioBlood Diamond
Jamie FoxxDreamgirls
Ryan GoslingHalf Nelson
Derek LukeCatch a Fire

Long Shots

Christian BaleThe Prestige
Sacha Baron CohenBorat
George ClooneyThe Good German
Greg KinnearLittle Miss Sunshine
Edward NortonThe Painted Veil

Best Actress

Judi Dench
Notes on a Scandal
Dench sheds the period garb but turns on the creeps as a lonely teacher who fixates on a new female colleague.

Helen Mirren
The Queen
A two-time nominee in a career-capping turn with modern-day relevance? No wonder she’s the one to beat.

Meryl Streep
The Devil Wears Prada
Nomination No. 14 seems likely for her wicked editrix Miranda Priestly. Months later, we’re still quoting her.

Annette BeningRunning With Scissors
Cate BlanchettThe Good German
Penélope CruzVolver
Naomi WattsThe Painted Veil
Kate WinsletLittle Children

Long Shots
Maggie GyllenhaalSherrybaby
Beyoncé KnowlesDreamgirls
Sienna MillerFactory Girl
Gretchen MolThe Notorious Bettie Page
Renée ZellwegerMiss Potter

Best Supporting Actor

Adam Beach
Flags of Our Fathers
As the alcoholic soldier who can’t face his own fame, Beach is easily Flags‘ standout performer.

Eddie Murphy
As the aging, desperate soul singer James ”Thunder” Early, the comedian is said to be nothing short of stunning.

Brad Pitt
He’s been nominated once before (for 1995’s 12 Monkeys) and shows more range than ever in Babel.

Alan ArkinLittle Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle HaleyLittle Children
Djimon HounsouBlood Diamond
Jack NicholsonThe Departed
Michael SheenThe Queen

Long Shots
Ben AffleckHollywoodland
Steve CarellLittle Miss Sunshine
Dustin HoffmanStranger Than Fiction
James McAvoyThe Last King of Scotland
Mark WahlbergThe Departed

Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett
Notes on a Scandal
Two years after winning for The Aviator, her sympathetic turn as an adulterous teacher could return her to this race.

Jennifer Hudson
As scene-stealer Effie, the American Idol finalist who was booted too soon is the underdog story of the year.

Rinko Kikuchi
In her first American film, the 25-year-old is heartbreaking as Babel‘s rage-filled and promiscuous deaf teenager.

Abigail BreslinLittle Miss Sunshine
Catherine O’HaraFor Your Consideration
Anika Noni RoseDreamgirls
Sharon StoneBobby
Emma ThompsonStranger Than Fiction

Long Shots
Adriana BarrazaBabel
Jill ClayburghRunning With Scissors
Phyllis SomervilleLittle Children
Meryl StreepA Prairie Home Companion
Robin Wright PennBreaking and Entering

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