The winners are…

Kevin Wilson, left, and Greg Price agonize to make their Oscar picks. (CNJ Staff Photo: Andy DeLisle)

Oscar night always promises at least one awkward speech, one winner you expected, and many you didn’t. The days before promise piles of Oscar picks columns from people who spend careers watching movies.

Kevin Wilson and Greg Price spend their paychecks on movies. Price watched all five Rocky movies in one sitting before going to see “Rocky Balboa” on Christmas Day. Wilson has based romantic relationships on whether the girl liked “Lost in Translation.”

They haven’t seen every movie nominated because not every movie comes to the Clovis/Portales microplex, so remember these are educated guesses. If we’re wrong, just try to forget that we made these picks…

Best Picture (Kevin)

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

Will win:“The Queen,” based on voting tendencies. First, voters give preference to a movie that shows historical events while taking creative liberties with the main characters (think “Titanic” in 1997 and “Forrest Gump” in 1994). Second, the voters don’t want to reward duplicity and “Babel” feels too much like 2006 Best Picture “Crash” to stand out.

Should win:“Little Miss Sunshine” provides comedy and many memorable scenes. Throughout, you’re provided with an uplifting tale that life is about disappointment, but more so how you deal with disappointment. The same thing happened to “The Shawshank Redemption” in 1994, when it went 0-for-7 at the Oscars.

Greg says:“The Departed” will and should win.

Best Actress (Greg)

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

Will win:Helen Mirren had three chances to play a queen named Elizabeth in 2006, so if the Academy doesn’t award her for nailing her performance as the last living one, she might never play royalty again.

Should win: Penelope Cruz made the most of her one shot to play a woman whose mother haunts her from the grave and remaining family begins to crumble. The sheer gravity of the role deserved a nomination, and pulling it off the way Cruz does is the most award-worthy

performance of the year.

Kevin says: Mirren will win, Cruz should win.

Best Actor (Kevin)

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

Will and should win: Forest Whitaker went to great lengths to play dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.” Whitaker learned to speak Swahili and play the accordion, and gained 50 pounds for the role. I can’t see giving the award to Leo DiCaprio in “Blood Diamond” when it’s argued he was better in “The Departed.” The other nominees seem like no-chance candidates given nominations because the movie is underappreciated (e.g., Terrence Howard’s nomination last year for “Hustle and Flow”).

Greg says: Whitaker will and should win.

Best Supporting Actress (Greg)

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

Will win: With today’s audience having the attention span of a gnat for any film with actual depth, let alone a musical, Jennifer Hudson’s role as a talented singer judged more on her frame than chops in “Dreamgirls” filled audiences with vigor and smiles. The former “American Idol” star will win and complete the best rags-to-riches story of recent memory.

Kevin says: Breslin will win, Hudson should win.

Best Supporting Actor (Kevin)

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

Will win: Alan Arkin is a deserving winner for his role as the sex fiend grandfather who keeps the family together in “Sunshine.” (I will be disappointed if Mark Wahlberg wins, because he’s only playing a jerk in “The Departed” and fans of NBC’s short-lived “Boomtown” series know Donnie Wahlberg is the family’s best actor.)

Should win: Eddie Murphy might be blaming himself and “Norbit.” A new slapstick movie featuring Murphy as stereotypical characters, including the overweight female Norbit, may end up swaying Oscar voters away from his deserved award for “Dreamgirls.”

Greg says: Arkin will win, Murphy should win.

Resident weighs in: David Linthicum, an employee at the Tower Twin Theatre in Portales, was happy Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for best actor in “Blood Diamond,” but would have also liked to see a supporting actor nomination for Jack Nicholson, who played DiCaprio’s mob boss in “The Departed.”

Best Director (Greg)

Nominees: Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Babel), Martin Scorsese (“The Departed”), Clint Eastwood (“Letters From Iwo Jima”), Stephen Frears (“The Queen”) and Paul Greengrass (“United 93”)

Will win: “Babel” completed Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s trilogy, and the Academy loves to reward directors after they’ve completed a seminal work (e.g., Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings”).

Should win: Despite the classics Scorsese has constructed, he’s never taken home an Oscar for best director. “The Departed” might not be his best film, but Scorsese returned to his crime-flick roots to create a world where ethics blur and who to trust appears just as foggy.

Kevin says: Gonzalez Iñárritu will win, Scorsese should win.

Best Animated Feature (Kevin)

Nominees: “Cars,” “Happy Feet” and “Monster House.”

Will win: “Cars” has something for just about everybody — beautiful graphics, the history of Route 66 and a role for “Larry the Cable Guy.” Pixar always delivers, even when its genre has been copied relentlessly — think of how many CGI films you’ve seen recently that feature talking animals and/or machines.

Should win: “Monster House.” The movie is the second to use performance capture, a type of computer animation first featured in “The Polar Express,” and it’s a great visual experience. It should win because animated films are for kids, and “Monster House” is about kids — not some animals created to show you how good the animators are.

Greg says: “Cars” will and should win.

Best Documentary (Greg)

Nominees: “Deliver Us From Evil,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Iraq in Fragments,” “Jesus Cam” and “My Country, My Country.”

Will and should win: It appeared the lucid, charismatic Al Gore everyone anticipated in the 2000 presidential election emerged in “An Inconvenient Truth,” his in-depth look at the devastating effects global warming has had and will continue to have on the planet. Gore cut to the crux of the dilemma and took it all the way to the box office with the highest grossing and best doc of 2006.

Kevin says: “An Inconvenient Truth” will and should win.

Awards We’d Like to See

Kevin says: Accomplishment in Comedy. Let’s see, 10 of the 20 highest-grossing movies in 2006 were comedies (counting four animated films), and there’s no way to recognize the best? I wouldn’t have minded an Oscar for “There’s Something About Mary” and I wouldn’t mind one for “Borat” this year.

Greg says: While I don’t want anything from the MTV Movie Awards to infect the Oscars, its award for Best Stunt must be considered. The fellas from “Jackass Two” deserve an award for their high jinks and the creativity involved in finding ways to hurt themselves and shock the world, e.g., Johnny Knoxville riding a manmade rocket 50 feet in the air dressed in an Evil Knievel throwback suit.

Residents weigh in: Kiva Hankins, an employee at a movie rental business in Portales, said she likes the Oscar Award for visual effects (nominees are “Superman Returns,” “Poseidon” and “Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest”), but she would like to see an Oscar given for creative director/producer.