As promised, here are my picks for this year's Oscar race. Last year I correctly guessed the top eight categories, but my annual bet with my father wound up in a tie as I lost a couple of the lesser categories. As usual, I must say that I do not suggest betting on the Oscars, as they are extremely tricky. Also, nine out of ten times, the winners of Oscar pools are the people who guess randomly, not those that do exhaustive research.

My picks do not include the animated and live action short categories as my father and I don't include those in our bet.

Anyway, let's get down to it, shall we?

Best Picture: Gladiator

This was a tough call, but Gladiator won the producer's guild award for best picture, and that's got a 70% accuracy rate when it comes to predicting the Oscar. Some major critics have changed their predictions to Crouching Tiger at the last minute, and two out of the three Times critics are predicting Traffic...but I'm sticking with this one. It got the most nominations, it's gonna get a handful of awards.

Best Director: Ang Lee

No contest. He won the DGA. Period.

Best Foreign Language Film: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

This is a lock. There was a major story last week about how the other films in this category didn't even get proper distribution.

Best Actor: Ed Harris

I've changed my pick from Hanks to Harris. Why? My gut tells me Hanks won't get it no matter how popular he is in Hollywood, and in my mind Crowe was never in the running. That leaves Harris and Bardem, but of the two I think more voters went to see Pollack than Before Night Falls. The Times has 3/3 picking Crowe here...but I just don't see that happening. Of course, I think Michael Douglas was absolutely robbed here, and not only deserved to be nominated, but deserved to win for his work on Wonder Boys.

Best Actress: Julia Roberts

Ellen Burstyn is getting robbed here, but this isn't about who should win, it's about who will win. Put your money against Roberts and you'll lose that bet. Period.

Best Documentary Feature: Into the Arms of Strangers

This category has been an embarrassment for years, as the really great documentaries never get nominated (Hoop Dreams, Crumb and American Movie were all snubbed). Last year I goofed on this category because I didn't realize there was a Holocaust movie nominated. I don't plan on making that mistake twice. This one's a Holocaust movie about children. It's a lock.

Best Supporting Actor: Benicio Del Toro

Del Toro's got the buzz and the awards to back him up. Albert Finney won the SAG, but that's only because Del Toro was nominated for actor and not supporting actor (and he won, too).

Best Supporting Actress: Kate Hudson

In the last few years this award has consistently gone to the current "it" girl (well, except for Judi Dench's baffling win for Shakespeare in Love). I have no idea how Dench won the SAG award, since she's spoken out against Chocolat and she's got barely any screen time in there. Hudson's been racking up the awards, and she'll take this too.

Best Makeup: The Grinch

Yeah the movie's horrible, but the makeup is creative, you gotta give them that. Of the three in this category, this seems to be the front runner.

Best Original Screenplay: You Can Count on Me

I went back and forth between this and Almost Famous all week...but I'm settling on this one. Cameron Crowe has been snubbed before, and I see that happening again. Had Almost Famous been nominated for Best Picture I'd pick that for this category, but it was passed over completely. Plus this category tends to go with the most deserving (The Usual Suspects, American Beauty).

Best Adapted Screenplay: Traffic

I'd love to see Wonder Boys get this, but since Traffic is a Best Picture contender, it seems likely that it will take this too. I've seen some critics that have actually picked O Brother Where Art Thou? (including Roger Ebert) but considering that the Cohen brothers have admitted that they never actually read the damn book I can't see that winning anything.

Best Visual Effects: The Perfect Storm

The effects in Gladiator were horrible. Hollow Man is a bigger contender than that for this category, but I think the realism involved in The Perfect Storm makes it the frontrunner.

Best Sound: Gladiator

Give Dreamworks credit, they know how to exploit DTS.

Best Sound Effects Editing: U-571

There are only two movies in this category, and this seemed to have a better shot than Space Cowboys. It's literally a 50/50 guess though.

Best Film Editing: Traffic

Traffic is a really complicated story involving lots of people. I think it really came together in the editing room. Gladiator's got a shot because of the picture/editing pattern, but my money's on Traffic.

Best Original Score: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

This was a really, really tough category. Gladiator picked up a handful of awards for its score, but then so did CTHD. After examining both (gotta love Napster), I'm picking CTHD because it's simply a better score. Gladiator's soundtrack is generic and pretty forgettable. CTHD's is pretty repetitive, but it's also got the phenomenal cello work of Yo-Yo Ma. Gladiator's soundtrack has a healthy future as the background music for trailers, but Zimmer has been passed over for far better works.

Best Song: Bob Dylan, Wonder Boys

Not only is this the best song by far in this category, but it's Dylan's best in years, and it was actually written for the movie - as in he watched a rough cut of it and tried to capture its overall mood in the song. The Disney dynasty has a great shot here, as does "A Love Before Time" the bilingual pop song from CTHD, but I think this will be the one award Wonder Boys goes home with, and rightly so.

Best Cinematography: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

CTHD has already picked up a lot of awards for its cinematography, plus there's the director/cinematography pattern. Still, Gladiator has a really good shot here, as does The Patriot, believe it or not.

Best Costume: Gladiator

Tough call here. Both CTHD and Quills have a great chance, but I think Dreamworks' super promotion of Gladiator will pay off here.

Best Art/Set Direction: Gladiator

CTHD has a chance, but I don't see it winning here. Did you really walk out of CTHD thinking about the art direction? That's about the only thing I liked about Gladiator, so my money's on that here.

And those are my picks...this is a really tough year, so if you've got anything riding on this...good luck.