Story by: Jack Foley
CLINT Eastwood's thriller, Mystic
River, has been tipped as an early Oscar favourite by US film
critics, according to various reports.
The gripping film, starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin
Bacon, has been installed as favourite to win Best Picture (at
6-1) by LA Times critic, Patrick Goldstein.
According to a report on the Guardian, The
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, which marks the final
film in the trilogy, is second favourite, at 8-1.
Another strong Oscar pundit, Emmanuel Levy, author of Oscar Fever,
also predicted nominations for the movie, as well as Russell Crowe's
Master & Commander.
Mr Levy, a critic for Variety, also tipped Bill Murray, Tom Cruise
and Russell Crowe for best actor nominations for, respectively,
Lost in Translation,
The Last Samurai, and
Master and Commander.
Early contenders for the best actress award have emerged as Naomi
Watts (for 21 Grams) and Gywneth
Paltrow (Sylvia), according
to Mr Levy.
Mr Goldstein's third favourite to win best picture is director,
Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain,
starring Oscar favourite, Nicole Kidman, and Jude Law.
Good outside bets include the family favourite, Finding
Nemo, and The House of Sand and Fog, starring Sir Ben Kingsley.
Mr Levy further predicted next year's ceremony would mark the
year of the blockbuster, with smaller films struggling because
the Academy voting pool was older than in previous years.