History in favour of Cate Blanchett in Oscars race

By Peter Mitchell

LOS ANGELES - With history on her side, Cate Blanchett can revive her Oscar hopes at the 13th Annual Screen Actor's Guild Awards (SAG) inside Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium tomorrow.

Two years ago, a surprised Blanchett won the SAG best supporting actress award, inside The Shrine, for her role as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator.

Riding the momentum of that SAG win, the Australian-born Hollywood star went on to win the Oscar.

Before the 2005 SAG victory, Natalie Portman emerged as a huge threat to Blanchett's Oscar chances by winning the other key lead-up award, the Golden Globe for the thriller Closer.

This year, Dreamgirls' Jennifer Hudson looks unbeatable for the SAG and Oscar best supporting actress awards.

The Los Angeles Times polled six film experts -- including representatives from USA Today and Newsday -- and all pencilled in Hudson to beat Blanchett at tomorrow's SAG ceremony.

Other critics agree Hudson appears unstoppable in her March to the Oscars.

"Blanchett has some of the same trouble as (Meryl) Streep -- she has set the bar high for herself by being great in just about everything, and she's already won an Oscar anyway," the San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle, wrote.

Blanchett, who is nominated for the British drama/thriller Notes On A Scandal, will shake up the Oscar race if she beats Hudson tomorrow for the SAG.

What Blanchett has in her favour is the fact that the SAG Awards are voted on by 110,000 actors.

There is no more respected actor in Hollywood than Blanchett, so voters may be more inclined to tick her box on the ballot than Hudson, who was a castoff from American Idol and whose acting resume only lists her Dreamgirls role.

An SAG win for Blanchett would also come at a perfect time as the Academy will mail the Oscar nomination ballots to its 6000 members on Wednesday.

The SAG best supporting actress category is a dress rehearsal for the Oscars with the five SAG nominees identical to the Oscar nominees.

The nominees are: Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal), Hudson (Dreamgirls), Adriana Barraza (Babel), Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine).

Oscar voters have until February 20 to submit their votes.

The 79th Annual Academy Awards ceremony is set for February 25.


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