Pulse picks: Academy Award winners of 2007

Best Picture:

The Nominees: “Babel,” “The Departed,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “The Queen.”

This is by far the closest of all of the categories to call since almost all of the nominees either deserve the award or have already won it elsewhere. “The Departed” has a very good chance to win, being the more widely known of any of the other nominees, and when it comes down to it, the Oscars are a popularity contest and “The Departed” is one of the most popular and well-known films of the year (as well as one of the best).

Which Should Win: “The Departed”

Which Will Win: “The Departed”

Best Actor:

The Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio for “Blood Diamond,” Ryan Gosling for “Half Nelson,” Will Smith for “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Peter O’Toole for “Venus” and Forest Whitaker for “The Last King of Scotland.”

While Forest Whitaker is the apparent front-runner, and will more than likely win, acting legend Peter O’Toole gives an equally strong, if not more so, performance as an aging veteran actor who tries to tutor a girl in art. Since it was a far less publicized film, it will be Whitaker who takes home a deserving Oscar giving audiences a window into the mind of a dictator.

Who Should Win: Peter O’Toole for “Venus”

Who Will Win: Forest Whitaker for “The Last King of Scotland”

Best Actress:

The Nominees: Penelope Cruz for “Volver,” Judi Dench for “Notes on a Scandal,” Helen Mirren for “The Queen,” Meryl Streep for “The Devil Wears Prada” and Kate Winslet for “Little Children.”

Of all of the major categories this is far and away the biggest guarantee of the night with Helen Mirren easily taking this award.

Giving one of the best performances in years playing Queen Elizabeth II, she has pretty much swept all of the other award shows and all that’s left is to collecting her Oscar come Sunday.

Who Should Win: Helen Mirren for “The Queen”

Who Will Win: Helen Mirren for “The Queen”

Best Supporting Actor:

The Nominees: Alan Arkin for “Little Miss Sunshine,” Jackie Earle Haley for “Little Children,” Djimon Hounsou for “Blood Diamond,” Eddie Murphy “Dreamgirls” and Mark Wahlberg for “The Departed.”

While most people find that Eddie Murphy will take this category, both Djimon Hounsou and Alan Arkin give better, stronger performances in their respective films.

Hounsou’s turn as the desperate father is especially strong, but the Academy will likely have a soft spot for Arkin, who has been acting for over fifty years and may not have too many more performances quite as strong as his turn as the drug- addicted grandfather.

Who Should Win: Djimon Hounsou for “Blood Diamond”

Who Will Win: Alan Arkin for “Little Miss Sunshine”

Best Supporting Actress:

The Nominees: Adriana Barraza for “Babel,” Cate Blanchett for “Notes on a Scandal,” Abigail Breslin for “Little Miss Sunshine,” Jennifer Hudson for “Dreamgirls” and Rinko Kikuchi for “Babel.”

In another category that is filled with more than a couple of weak candidates Jennifer Hudson will likely take this award for her show-stealing role in “Dreamgirls.”

With this category having a history of underdog wins, don’t count out “Little Miss Sunshine’s” star Breslin to win. Otherwise, this is Hudson’s award.

Who Should Win: Jennifer Hudson “Dreamgirls”

Who Will Win: Jennifer Hudson for “Dreamgirls”