'Hurt Locker' battles 'Avatar' for Oscars


Hollywood's women may steal the Academy Awards spotlight tonight when the final curtain falls on the top film honors.

Kathryn Bigelow is the frontrunner to win the golden trophy dubbed Oscar for best director with Iraq war film The Hurt Locker. If so, she would make history as the first woman to win that award in more than 80 years the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has given them away.

Irish interest in the Oscars is high with five nominations, including one for Brown Bag Films’s animated fairytale Granny O’Grimm. Brown Bag was previously nominated in for Give Up Yer Aul Sins.

America's Sweetheart Sandra Bullock is favoured to earn her first Academy Award for best actress playing a strong mom in The Blind Side. Last night she was given a worst actress "Razzie" by a group of Hollywood critics.

No performer - male or female - has ever been best and worst in 30 years of that dubious distinction.

If Bullock fails on Oscar night, pundits say the likely best actress is veteran Meryl Streep as trailblazing chef Julia Child in the culinary comedy Julie & Julia. If she takes the Academy Award in her record 16th nomination, Streep will be just one victory short of legendary Katharine Hepburn, who had four Oscars in her lifetime, more than any man or woman.

Comedian Mo'Nique has claimed almost every supporting actress honour in sight for her dramatic turn as an abusive mother in Precious: Based On the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire, and she is favoured at the Oscars, too.

Jeff Bridges seems to be a lock for best actor as a drunken singer in Crazy Heart and Christoph Waltz is favoured for supporting actor as a menacing Nazi in Inglourious Basterds. Both have claimed numerous other awards for their work.

Yet, even with the acting categories all but sewn up, Oscar watchers say some drama remains for the televised ceremony - starting at 1.30am Irish time - in downtown Hollywood where the red carpet is rolled out and a fashion parade awaits. That drama comes from Avatar director James Cameron.

As Hollywood's award season has played out since December, Bigelow and her reality-fueled Hurt Locker have trumped her ex-husband Cameron and his effects-filled Avatar at almost every event.

At private Hollywood parties, there have been whispers that the 5,800 Oscar voters may prefer Avatar with its $2.5 billion at global box offices, compared to about $20 million for Hurt Locker.