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Bettors tap 'Departed,' Mirren, Whittaker

Jan. 24, 2007 at 6:37 PM

LONDON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- London bookmakers tapped Martin Scorsese's thriller "The Departed" as the early favorite to win best picture and best director honors at the Academy Awards.

Ladbrokes placed the odds on the film winning best picture at 10-11, while putting Scorsese as a 1-3 favorite for best director, the BBC said.

Helen Mirren, nominated for her portrayal as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen," was favored to win a best actress statuette, Ladbrokes' William Hill said.

Forest Whitaker is odds-on favorite to win in the best actor category forhis performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland."

The bookmaker said he already stopped taking bets on Dame Helen because, "Punters have gone bonkers for Mirren and we can't take any more punishment."

The 79th Academy Awards winners will be presented Feb. 25 in Los Angeles.

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