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Oscar roundup: November 6

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So there’s this movie that came out today; it’s called Precious. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Ever since its Sundance premiere all the way back in January, people have been using the O-word (no, not Oprah) when talking about the film. Now that it’s finally out, I can run down its chances in all the major categories, followed by two long-shot male performances from the weekend’s other new releases.

PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL ‘PUSH’ BY SAPPHIRE

Best Bets

Best Picture: In a year featuring several strong independent films (The Hurt Locker, An Education, A Single Man), it’s easily the indie with the best shot at Oscar.

Best Director, Lee Daniels: With only his second feature, he stands to become the second African-American nominee in this category (after Boyz N the Hood‘s John Singleton). Spike Lee must be seething.

Best Actress, Gabourey Sidibe: Her heartbreaking performance will be even more irresistible once Academy members realize she’s actually the opposite of her downtrodden character.

Best Supporting Actress, Mo’Nique: The comedian galvanizes the film with her shocking turn as an abusive mother. She’s another contender who can win over voters as the season continues.

Best Adapted Screenplay, Geoffrey Fletcher: Fletcher skillfully synthesized Sapphire’s brutal novel into a vividly emotional and ultimately hopeful script.

Possibles

Best Supporting Actress, Mariah Carey: Once people get past the strange concept of Carey as an Oscar contender, they won’t be able to deny the power of her few scenes as a social worker. If you ask me, she more than deserves to be in this race.

Best Original Song, “I Can See in Color”: Mary J. Blige’s spare and raw track perfectly reflects the film’s emotional impact. But is it too spare for the music branch?

Long shot

Best Supporting Actress, Paula Patton: She has perhaps the film’s least showy role, but Patton is an angelic presence as Precious’ caring teacher. If the movie becomes a phenomenon, she could benefit with a nod.

THAT EVENING SUN

Long shot

Best Actor, Hal Holbrook: Two years after earning his first career nomination for Into the Wild, the veteran performer is earning raves for his lead role in the southern drama. But will anyone actually see it?

THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS

Long shot

Best Supporting Actor, George Clooney: The past winner in this category is a hoot in the bizarre comedy. But truly polarizing reviews for the film may count him out. Good thing he’s got his surefire leading-man turn in Up in the Air.