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79th Academy Awards Show Preview

Posted Monday February 26, 2007 12:40 AM GMT

The preparation complete and activities underway, Hollywood is ready to celebrate film with the 79th Academy Awards ceremony.

About 3,400 guests will start arriving at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre from 2:00 PST on, where they will be greeted by a bombardment of camera flashes from photographers shooting the world's most star-studded fashion show.

"A massive security operation was underway early on Sunday, with streets surrounding the Oscars venue closed down and several hundred police manning checkpoints and conducting searches to ward off potential terrorist threats," according to News 24 reports.

The Oscars ceremony, which is slated to run 3 hours, will kick off at about 5:00 PST, with all eyes on the final award of the night, best picture, which is said to be one of the most wide open races in years.

Four of the five nominees are regarded as strong contenders, with Martin Scorsese's crime drama, The Departed, and hit independent comedy Little Miss Sunshine viewed as the marginal favorites by bookmakers. Sunshine won the Independent Spirit Award for best picture last night.

Scorsese, often described as America's greatest living filmmaker, is widely expected to win his first Oscar for best director after being passed up on five previous occasions.

But speculation is raging as to whether Scorsese's payback Oscar win will be accompanied by a best picture statuette for The Departed, a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs.

"However, veteran director Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima, a war epic shot in Japanese, and Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's cross-cultural ensemble drama, Babel, also are viewed as strong contenders," reports AP insiders.

British royal drama, The Queen, is the fifth nominee and a firm outsider, even though it is likely to bring an Oscar for lead actress to Helen Mirren, who has won most every award leading up to tonight.

In the best actor race, Forest Whitaker is also considered almost unbeatable, having swept all of this year's awards for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

Enjoy the awards show and be sure to visit The Gossip Girls for complete post-Oscar coverage.