I'm usually pretty good at this, if I may say so. Predicting these things, I mean.
Best Picture - Crash
You heard me. I think the Oscar voters, as a whole, are an older and more conservative group - conservative enough not to reward the Gay Cowboy movie with the big prize. Conservative enough that many of the academy voters may not have actually seen the film. The hint that's out there has to do with all the smirking jokes the late-night comics are making about it. There is a cream-of-wheat alternative for the academy to reward - a 'Message Picture' that will not age well but seems like an edgy choice on the actual evening the awards are handed out. American Beauty won this award in 2000, and Crash will win it this year. God, I hope I'm wrong, but I fear it will happen.
Best Director - Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
This year I think the director award will be a consolation prize. They don't often give it to a first-time feature director, which works against Paul Haggis and also Bennett Miller, who I think directed the best film of the year.
Best Actor - Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
He was fantastic in the film, and he's been consistently good in the movies for the last few years, so give him a major award already. This is the only one of the major awards that seems to me to be a lock.
Best Actress - Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
Can't give Oscars to a Hoffman and a Huffman in the same year.
Best Supporting Actor - George Clooney, Syriana
Not only for gaining all that weight (and hinging the film together) but mostly to acknowledge the year he's had as the new Warren Beatty of Hollywood - a prominent liberal movie star who chooses to put his mouth where his money is.
Best Supporting Actress - Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
The Juliette Binoche award this year. She'll run up the middle of a pack of likely winners.
Screenplay winners will be for Crash (original) and Brokeback (adapted). Brokeback will also win cinematography. Constant Gardener will win editing. The penguins will win for documentary. Altman will use the podium to say something uncharitable about the President of the United States.
And the Debbie Allen production number for the pimp song will be in really bad taste.