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Not That Anyone Cares...

... but I thought I'd weigh in with a few Oscar picks before tomorrow night's show, which has been moved up a month so it falls into the February "rating period", thus generating big $ for ABC.

I'll just mention the main categories (Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Director and Best Picture), since those are the ones most people pay attention to, and besides, I don't know that much about the minor ones anyway.

Best Actor

Who Should Win: Sean Penn, "Mystic River". This was a powerful performance in a movie that was very true to the gritty Dennis Lehane novel it was based on (read it, by the way, if you haven't)

Who Will Win: Penn. Ben Kingsley has a chance, and though some people have mentioned Bill Murray, I can't see any reason to vote for him except to get a really funny acceptance speech.

Best Actress

Who Should Win: Keisha Castle-Hughes, "Whale Rider". Yes, this is her first film, and she is only twelve years old. But the performance carried the entire film, and she has an incredible screen presence, something you have to be born to. This is also a must-see film, incidentally.

Who Will Win: Charlize Theron, "Monster". Theron took a lot of risks with this role, and did a terrific job. She's the critics' choice, and the studio has put a lot of clout behind her, and these awards are often political. I'm not saying she shouldn't win, but Castle-Hughes' performance was better.

Best Supporting Actor

Who Should Win: Djimon Hounsou, "In America". Here's another movie that didn't get much notice, but Hounsou, who first got raves as the slave rebellion leader in "Amistad", puts in an incredible range here as you first think he's going to be an evil presence in this film, then he turns out to be central to the lives of all the characters in a positive light. Go see this movie, incidentally. It should have gotten more nominations.

Who Will Win: Hounsou. The Academy sometimes likes going out on a limb and this is a category they could easily do so this year.

Best Supporting Actress

Who Should Win: Shoreh Agadashloo, "House of Sand and Fog". Agadashloo is Iranian, and doesn't even speak fluent English. Yet her quiet dignity lit up the screen in this movie. It would be a real triumph for her if she won.

Who Will Win: Agadashloo, though there are a couple of dark horses in Marcia Gay Harden ("Mystic River"), and Renee Zellweger's kind of over-the-top performance in "Cold Mountain", which I liked a lot.

Best Director

Who Should Win: Clint Eastwood, "Mystic River". Eastwood has proven that he is one of the top directors of our time, with his Oscar for "Unforgiven", but this directing job is even better than that one.

Who Will Win: Peter Jackson, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". The Directors' Guild award went to him and only five times in Oscar history has the Academy not honored the same person. It won't this year, either.

Best Picture

What Should Win: "Mystic River". This movie had everything: a great script, a great director, some great performances, and a terrific novel that it was based on. But it won't win, unfortunately, because of a juggernaut this year.

What Will Win: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King". I have to be honest -- I didn't like the first film in this series. I wasn't into the books, and as a result I didn't bother watching the other two films, including this one. From what I hear, it was well made and faithful to the story, and those who are into the Lord of the Rings trilogy loved it.

I just wouldn't have voted for it myself.