The only nominee I can confidently eliminate is The Queen. It's a fine film and has done well commercially, but I have a feeling most Academy members view the film as a glorified made-for-TV film, something HBO normally airs. Don't worry, it will probably be rewarded in another category. As for the other four, they all have their reasons why they could win. Babel has the most nominations and can claim the mantle of "important film," Little Miss Sunshine is a film adored by just about everyone and is the little indie film that could, Letters from Iwo Jima is a critically-adored war film directed by a beloved director at the top of his form, and The Departed is the most commercially-successful film of the bunch and is also well-admired. However, each film also has its drawback: Babel probably irritated many (including myself), Little Miss Sunshine may be seen as too lightweight, Clint Eastwood's previous Oscar successes may lead to a passing over of Letters regardless of how good it is, and The Departed is a bloody, genre film. Still, I'm going with The Departed. It has a strong pedigree and may be the least divisive film of the lot.
Will Win: The Departed
Should Win: Letters from Iwo Jima
Robbed: Children of Men
Forest Whitaker has won practically every best actor award this year, yet I'm going out on a limb and picking the sentimental choice. I have a feeling I'll be wrong with this one, but wouldn't it be nice if I was proven right? While Whitaker's performance is quite something to behold, it's also not a lead performance. It really is a supporting role, regardless of how much the character dominates the proceedings. I haven't seen O'Toole's film, so I'm picking him simply for the sentimental factor.
Will Win: Peter O'Toole
Should Win: Ryan Gosling
Robbed: James McAvoy, The Last King of Scotland
There's no use even explaining the choice. Mirren steamrolled over everyone this year, and she did so in a particularly good year for actresses. With Mirren's eventual win, the string of skinny, young actresses winning best actress will end. The last woman of a certain age to win was Frances McDormand ten years ago.
Will Win: Helen Mirren
Should Win: Judi Dench
Robbed: No one really. All five were the best of the year.
It's Scorsese's year. None of the other nominees have much momentum. Only Eastwood and Greengrass have a chance of winning but their chances are slim to none. Eastwood has won twice, most recently two years ago, so I doubt the Academy will be eager to give him a third while Scorsese has zilch. Greengrass's film made too many people uncomfortable and the film did not receive a best picture nomination.
Will Win: Martin Scorsese
Should Win: Martin Scorsese
Robbed: Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Tough, tough category. Eddie Murphy is the presumed frontrunner, but I can make arguments for everyone else, too. I'm going with Arkin because of the sentimental factor and the fact that Murphy might have turned off voters with his aloofness, not to mention the recent release of Norbit.
Will Win: Alan Arkin
Should Win: Alan Arkin
Robbed: Michael Sheen, The Queen
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
I'm going out on a limb here. Jennifer Hudson is the frontrunner, and she certainly delivers with "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." That number alone should have sealed the Oscar for her. However, when she's not singing, her acting is merely serviceable. Only when she sings does the character come alive. Plus, I have doubts that the Academy wants to honor an American Idol reject. The only reason Hudson is the frontrunner is the lack of competition. No one came out to battle Hudson. Abigail Breslin might win if support for Little Miss Sunshine is strong, and Cate Blanchett, too, if the Academy has forgotten that she won two years ago. I'm going to go with the true best supporting actress of the five nominees, Adriana Barraza. While I didn't like Babel, I loved Barraza. She was the heart of the film and its most empathetic character, despite the manipulations Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu put character through.
Will Win: Adriana Barraza
Should Win: Adriana Barraza
Robbed: Catherine O'Hara, For Your Consideration
Original Screenplay: Little Miss Sunshine
Adapted Screenplay: The Departed
Cinematography: Children of Men
Editing: United 93
Art Direction: Pan's Labyrinth
Costume: Marie Antoinette
Original Score: The Queen
Original Song: "Listen" from Dreamgirls
Sound Mixing: Dreamgirls
Sound Editing: Letters from Iwo Jima
Visual Effects: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Make Up: Pan's Labyrinth
Foreign Film: Pan's Labyrinth
Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth
Animated Film: Cars
Animated Short: Little Matchgirl
Documentary Short: The Blood of Yingzhou District
Live Action Short: West Bank Story
The last three are guesses. I know nothing of those categories. We'll see how my predictions fare.