My guesses as to who will win...
Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby
I thought Sideways was the least flawed of the five nominees, but not enough people think of Sideways as best-picture-worthy content. Million Dollar Baby and Aviator cover grander material, and Oscar voters gravitate towards that. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind deserves not just a nomination in this category but a win.
Best Director: Clint Eastwood
Scorsese should have several best directing Oscars already, and perhaps the Academy will choose this year to finally reward him. But I've read so many stories about Eastwood having directed, acted in, and even written the score for Million Dollar Baby. Eastwood won the DGA Award, and that's traditionally been a strong leading indicator. I'm rooting for Scorsese to pull off the minor upset.
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx
One of this year's shoo-ins.
Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman
Clive Owen was brilliant in Closer. Morgan Freeman seems like he should receive a lifetime Best Supporting Actor Award, he's been the quiet, commanding presence off to the side in so many movies, and this will represent exactly that type of recognition.
Best Supporting Actress: Natalie Portman
Often a category where a surprise young actress pulls the upset, and if so, only Natalie Portman fits the bill. Everyone loves Cate, and she played Hollywood royalty in The Aviator. But there's always an upset somewhere, so this is mine.
Adapted Screenplay: Sideways
Won't win best pic, but will be recognized here.
Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
No movie got shafted more in this year's Oscar noms. Should have been a best pic nominee, but the movie will have to settle for this consolation prize. Charlie Kaufman is due.
Foreign Film: The Sea Inside
I didn't see a single one of these! So I'm just going to guess the one I heard the most about. Downfall only just started playing in NYC last week. Voters in this category are required to see all the nominees; I couldn't be less qualified.
Animated Feature: The Incredibles
The category otherwise known as the annual Pixar Coronation Award.
Art Direction: The Aviator
I only caught The Aviator and Finding Neverland in this category, and The Aviator wins that matchup.
Cinematography: The Aviator
Film Editing: Million Dollar Baby
I can't choose between The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby. Thelma Schoonmaker has worked with Scorsese forever and is filmmaking royalty, but I'm guessing she'll take the fall for some people's dislike of the last third of The Aviator, giving way for Joel Cox, Eastwood's longtime editor, to win this Oscar. It's not fair, but often the longer movie suffers in this category.
Costume Design: The Aviator
Brad Pitt was naked in most of Troy, and some women would argue that's the costume of the year. This seems like an easy win for The Aviator, especially since Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events received mediocre reviews. The halo effect exists, much as it does for the MVP award in sports. Being on a winning team matters.
Makeup: The Passion of the Christ
I sure hope that was makeup.
Original Score: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Fun, playful score by a rejuvenated John Williams.
Original Song: "Believe"
The only song I heard in this category was "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2, and I can't remember it at all. I listened to a few 30 second sound clips on iTunes Music Store, and based on that, Believe seems like the type of saccharine that often triumphs in this category. It sounds like the type of song I'll hear in a mall in about ten years, as I wait in line for my kid to get a photo with Santa.
Sound Editing: Spiderman 2
I have no idea.
Sound Mixing: Ray
I loved the plane crash in The Aviator, but hearing Ray Charles in surround sound at a great movie theater was the sound mixing treat of the movie year.
Visual Effects: Spiderman 2
I thought the effects in I, Robot were unconvincing, especially in the scene where Will Smith is walking amongst row after row of robots. Spiderman 2 improved upon the effects in the original, though I'm still not sold on the movements of Spiderman in action. Still too cartoony. But it's the flashiest of the movies here, especially with Spidey-level shots as he swings between traffic (between the cab and trailer of a semi, yes) and off of skyscrapers.
Animated Short: Gopher Broke
I missed the screening of shorts at MOMA last weekend and Salon's one-day online screening. Why aren't these shorts hosted online for a longer period of time? I'd think the creators would to broaden exposure for their work. I didn't see a single one of any of the shorts in any of the short categories.
Documentary Short: Sister Rose's Passion
Live-Action Short Film: Little Terrorist
Threw a dart.