Oscar sets the stage for ladies night

Sun Mar 7, 2010 1:17pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Academy Awards have long been dominated by men and their movies, but Hollywood's women may steal the spotlight Sunday when the final curtain falls on the top film honors watched around the world.

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.

"America's Sweetheart" Sandra Bullock is favored to earn her first Academy Award for best actress playing a strong mom in "The Blind Side." A day earlier, 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 honor in sight for her dramatic turn as an abusive mother in "Precious: Based On the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire," and she is favored 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 favored for supporting actor as a menacing Nazi in "Inglourious Basterds." Both have claimed numerous other awards for their work.

CAMERON, "AVATAR" LOOM   Continued...

<p>Director Kathryn Bigelow arrives at the 21st annual Producers Guild of America Awards in Los Angeles January 24, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>