And, the winner is…

The 82nd Annual Academy Awards are this Sunday on ABC at 8 p.m. EST / 7 p.m. CST. The evening promises to be full of surprises including a few shocking winners. Here’s a look at my predictions on who’s going home with some extra gold.

Best Picture

The winner of this year’s “Best Picture” will be The Hurt Locker.

The Hurt Locker has been picking up momentum over the last few weeks and looks to be a lock for the award. This would mark the first time a movie about the war in Iraq won the award.

Following the win at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Kathryn Bigelow’s magnum opus probably has a big night in store with this award and several others.

The only movie that looks to have a chance of spoiling the night for The Hurt Locker is James Cameron’s Avatar. For some reason, after being visually and intellectually insulted for almost three hours, people leave the theater thinking they just saw some resplendent combination of The Smurfs, Star Wars and The Last of the Mohicans.

Don’t worry, Avatar will still win all the truly meaningful purchasable Oscars for effects. But, effects don’t win the big one. Especially when District 9 made the same moral points better and on a budget a fraction of the size of Avatar’s.

I’d love to see District 9 win the award. It was a devastatingly beautiful film about racism, but I doubt the Academy would give it to a sci-fi indie film.

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) will be the first woman to win the award.

In addition to being the first female recipient of “Best Director,” another twist makes this award race truly interesting. Bigelow is divorced from Cameron.

Cameron is a hot contender to steal this award from Bigelow. But, with the chance to finally give the award to a deserving woman, which is long overdue, who happens to be divorced from another top contender, the storyline is too good for the Academy to pass up.

Best Male Lead

After two breaks from tradition, I think the Academy is keeping it close to home for “Best Male Lead.” I’m going with George Clooney (Up in the Air).

As part of his powerful performance, Clooney helped develop and create a character most people can connect with on some level and, despite his job as a corporate downsizer, with whom can sympathize.

Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) is definitely the strongest competitor for Clooney for the award. And, Bridges could very well finally strike gold with his fifth nomination.

Best Female Lead

This is the category with the potential for the most dramatic fireworks and I think the Academy will deliver a shocker by selecting Gabourey Sidibe (Precious).

In a field with several legendary actresses, Sidibe will climb to the top because of her gut-wrenching performance and a split vote. Sidibe benefits from a contingent of voters who had her picked from the beginning, while Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep divide the rest.

Best Supporting Male

This category has a few strong choices, but I am going with Woody Harrelson (The Messenger).

Harrelson’s portrayal of a soldier given the duty of informing next-of-kin about a relative’s death in the war is tear jerking as he is forced to look at himself in the process.

Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) looks to be a likely runner-up with his portrayal of a Nazi colonel.

Best Supporting Female

Giving the movie a sweep of the female acting awards, Mo’Nique (Precious) will take the award home for her role in Precious.

Mo’Nique brought herself to the edge playing the abusive and cruel mother of Precious in the film. She broke away from her comedy background and delivered in spades.

Either of the nominees from Up in the Air, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, have a chance at the prize.

Best Animated Film

And now, the biggest shocker of the night… not really, Up will take this award.

At some point, the Academy might as well go ahead and rename this award after Pixar. There is only one company that can take the idea of Up and deliver a movie that breaks your heart and lifts you back up at the same time.

Wes Anderson’s charming Fantastic Mr. Fox, based on the Roald Dahl classic book is a nice second-choice. But come on, there is no way Up is losing this one.