If I get them all completely right, somebody has to buy me a soda. Preferably black cherry.
Best Picture: The nominees this year are all good films, with the year's real best picture (The Fountain) completely ignored. The Departed, Martin Scorsese's remake of the Hong Kong actioner Infernal Affairs, is my favorite from this bunch, but based on past awards, it seems that many Academy members can't handle his brand of violent filmmaking. Babel, which is 75 percent great with the remaining portion not so good, was the early front-runner. However, Little Miss Sunshine is a movie everybody seems to like. It's not nearly the best picture of the year, but I'm thinking it will be by Oscar's bizarro standards. Letters From Iwo Jima and The Queen don't stand a chance. Should Win: The Departed. Will Win: Little Miss Sunshine.
Best Actor: The year's best male leading performances were delivered by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed and Hugh Jackman in The Fountain, so, of course, those performances were ignored. Instead, DiCaprio was nominated for Blood Diamond, and Jackman was asked to try again later. Of the nominees, Ryan Gosling impressed me most with his crack-addicted teacher in Half Nelson, followed by Will Smith's career best in The Pursuit of Happyness. However, Forest Whitaker's impersonation of Idi Amin in the slightly above-average The Last King of Scotland appears to have the upper hand. If anybody has a chance to unseat him, it's Hollywood fave Peter O'Toole in Venus, which wouldn't be that bad, because he's pretty damn great in the movie. Should Win: Gosling. Will Win: Whitaker.
Best Actress: This will go to Helen Mirren for The Queen. Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal), Meryl Streep (the crappy The Devil Wears Prada), Kate Winslet (Little Children) and Penélope Cruz (Volver) need to start practicing those loser faces. Will and Should Win: Mirren.
Best Supporting Actor: Were I handing out the golden boys, I'd give one to Mark Wahlberg for his acid-tongued cop in The Departed. Eddie Murphy will win for the best work of his career in Dreamgirls. Alan Arkin was great in Little Miss Sunshine, and Jackie Earle Haley gets comeback of the year for Little Children, while Djimon Hounsou screamed impressively in Blood Diamond. But this is Murphy's year. Should Win: Wahlberg. Will Win: Murphy.
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson probably has a lock on this for Dreamgirls, but Adriana Barraza deserves it for amazing work in Babel. It's all cute and fun that Abigail Breslin was nominated for Little Miss Sunshine. Cate Blanchett delivered the third-best performance of Notes on a Scandal (after Dench and Bill Nighy), and Rinko Kikuchi played a prominent part in the lousy portion of Babel. Nuts to the Academy for ignoring Catherine O'Hara in For Your Consideration. Should Win: Barraza. Will Win: Hudson.
Best Director: Here we go again. It's time to quit screwing around and give Scorsese his Oscar for The Departed. He's one of cinema history's greatest, and his picture is the best in this category. Eastwood did good work for Letters From Iwo Jima, but he's not going to take Martin this time. Alejandro González Iñárritu did inconsistent work with Babel, while Paul Greengrass killed me with United 93, and Stephen Frears impressed with The Queen. Never mind that ... give Scorsese his Oscar. Will and Should Win: Scorsese.
Other winners will include Pan's Labyrinth for Best Foreign Language Film, the not-all-that-great Cars for Best Animated Film, and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth for Best Documentary Feature.
I'm also going to go out on a limb and predict Marie Antoinette for Best Costume Design. I know you were just dying to hear my thoughts on that one.