Check out EW's odds for Kathy Bates, Judi Dench, Rachel Griffiths, and more

By EW Staff
Updated March 19, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

We have seen the future…and it’s time to take our crystal ball in for a tune-up. With some of the tightest races in recent memory, the 71st annual Academy Awards has even the most seasoned prognosticators playing 52 pickup with their tarot decks. Despite the cloudiness, we’ve managed to sift through the hoopla of critics’ prizes, secondary awards shows, and straight-up politics to fearlessly predict the fates of Gwyneth Paltrow, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Billy Bob Thornton, Shakespeare, and the rest of the nominees in all 24 categories. Should the events of March 21, 1999 surprise the entire world, we’ll throw up our hands like the rest of you. But should we prove uncannily correct, you know where to send a cut of those Oscar-pool winnings.

Kathy Bates

For Her: Even those who hated Primary Colors said Bates (the race’s sole Yank) deserved a nod for her portrayal of a gay, crazy, smart, doomed (is this part made for Oscar or what?) political dust buster. Plus, she gets sympathy votes for playing Adam Sandler’s ma in The Waterboy.
Against Her: Primary season was so long ago.
Odds: 3-1

Brenda Blethyn

For Her: She let herself look — and sound — terrible as the tarted-up, blowsy blabbermouth of Little Voice; after this and Secrets & Lies, it’s clear that nobody does British basket cases (female division) better.
Against Her: Her miles-over-the-top performance has some voters grumbling that less would have been more.
Odds: 15-1

Judi Dench

For Her: As the sharp-tongued, sharper-minded Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love, she pretty much gave a master class in the art of screen acting, and she’s got residual respect from last year’s Mrs. Brown nomination.
Against Her: Blink and you miss her brief performance (but did anyone dare blink while she was on screen?).
Odds: 2-1

Rachel Griffiths

For Her: In a category famous for its young surprise winners (Anna Paquin, Marisa Tomei, Juliette Binoche, to name a few), Griffiths’ understated and emotionally restrained work in Hilary and Jackie is exactly the kind of performance that can end up sneaking into the winner’s envelope.
Against Her: Rachel who?
Odds: 7-2

Lynn Redgrave

For Her: Thirty-two years after her first nomination, well-regarded Hollywood vet Redgrave took the smallish part of James Whale’s maid in Gods and Monsters, stole scenes from Ian McKellen(!), and won the Golden Globe.
Against Her: To some, her Edith Bunker-meets-Cloris Leachman-in-Young Frankenstein look barely skirted parody.
Odds: 7-2

The Lowdown: Judi, Judi, Judi (but don’t say we didn’t warn you).