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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Red-carpet competitors

And then there was … blood. If there is one enduring image from the movies of 2008, it’s the red stuff.

And we’re not talking just about horror movies such as those that make up the “Saw” and “Hostel” series, much less the hip horror takeoffs directed by Robert Rodriguez (“Terror Planet”) and Quentin Tarantino (“Death Proof”).

No, we’re talking about movies that earned Academy Award nominations in one category or another.

When the Oscar broadcast begins today at 5 p.m. (on Spokane’s ABC affiliate KXLY 4), and host Jon Stewart oversees the obligatory montage of films clips, at least a few will feature …

… Johnny Depp slitting throats in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

… Javier Bardem shotgunning his victims in “No Country for Old Men.”

… Cate Blanchett sending her enemies to the chopping block in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.”

… Casey Affleck shooting Jesse James (Brad Pitt) in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”

…Viggo Mortensen stabbing and bludgeoning his would-be assassins in “Eastern Promises.”

…Daniel Day-Lewis shooting and bludgeoning his enemies in “There Will Be Blood.”

And so on.

None of this blood-letting necessarily will determine who’s going to walk off with one of those little gold statuettes gripped in his or her fist. As has happened throughout Oscar’s 80-year history, the choices will be made according to – well, a combination of factors ranging from who owes whom to an actual appraisal of talent.

One of the great annual enjoyments of movies fans is trying to figure out what the results those factors will be. So as a public service to our readers, to help you win your office and/or Oscar-party pools, we offer a look at the top six Oscar races for 2008 (see best picture on D1).

Read at your own risk, however. We don’t provide Band-Aids.

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