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The Hours

Picture: producers Scott Rudin, Robert Fox
Actress: Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep
Supporting actress: Julianne Moore
Adapted screenplay: David Hare
Cinematographer: Seamus McGarvey
Editor: Peter Boyle
Costume design: Ann Roth
Makeup: Ivana Primorac (prosthetic design: Conor O’Sullivan, Jo Allen)

Based on Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer-winning novel, Paramount’s “The Hours” has a winning combo of kudo components and weight to score in several major categories this awards season.

David Hare’s adapted screenplay seems an obvious one. His adept handling of the original material — centered around Virginia Woolf’s writing of “Mrs. Dalloway” — moves the action cleverly between three separate eras and sets of characters, and is likely to get notice from Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voters. British playwrights tend to do well in the kudo department on high-profile work: Hare’s compatriot Tom Stoppard got an Oscar for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love.”

Another big kudo flag: Pic’s acting ranks are stacked with Oscar nominees and winners, from Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore to Nicole Kidman and Ed Harris.

The latter two make major transformations for their roles, usually looked upon favorably by awards voters. Kidman is near unrecognizable as Virginia Woolf, wearing a prosthetic nose and speaking in a low whisper. Harris is Richard Brown, a long-suffering, house-ridden AIDS patient looked after by Streep’s character. These radically new guises are the kind of perfs that could translate into first wins for two seasoned actors who have yet to win Academy Awards.

Moore, who plays an unhappy 1954 housewife who is obsessed with Woolf’s book, will vie for a supporting slot, taking her out of a possible race against herself as lead actress in another role as a ’50s housewife in Focus’ “Far From Heaven.”

Remaining supporting cast, Stephen Dillane, Toni Collette and Allison Janney, could garner some kudo notice, but limited screentime is likely to work against them.

Oscar nominated for his first feature, “Billy Elliot,” in 2000, theater director Stephen Daldry looks to be headed for another nom, this time for making sense out of a complicated tapestry of three stories set in very different environments.

Editor Peter Boyle also could garner Acad attention for the easy movement between pic’s various time periods. Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, production designer Maria Djurkovic and costume designer Ann Roth all contributed to giving the separate periods a distinctive look. And pic’s makeup department is likely to get notice for Kidman’s new look.

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