“Nobody knows what will happen in the Best Picture category on Oscar night,” Riskybiz blog’s Anne Thompson begins. “I’m guessing The Departed is ahead of Little Miss Sunshine by a hair, and EW‘s Dave Karger agrees with me.

“While many Oscar prognosticators insist that Little Miss Sunshine is weak because it lacks a director nomination, or that Babel is strong because it has the most nominations (seven), I maintain that there is real affection for Little Miss Sunshine, which could win Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor, that Babel will likely win Score, that The Queen will win Helen Mirren, and that The Departed will win Director and Adapted Screenplay. This is the most even playing field in years.”

Whoa, whoa…did anyone catch that? A hard-nosed, no-nonsense Hollywood Reporter columnist whose fingers are constantly monitoring the industry pulse is saying that because “there is real affection for Little Miss Sunshine” that Alan Arkin “could” win Best Supporting Actor,

Decoding the code: Thompson also uses the “c” word regarding Michael Andt‘s chances of winning Best Original Screenplay, which are nearly 100% assured. In other words, she’s being her usual qualifying, don’t-stick-your-neck-out-too-far self by using the word “could” in relation to something she believes will possibly/ probably happen. In other words, she feels/believes/suspects that the LMS coattails may usher in the defeat of Eddie Murphy.