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Early Oscar Picks

With the Oscars less than three weeks away (The Academy Awards will be presented on Feb. 29), The Early Show entertainment contributors Laurie Hibberd and Jess Cagle, who is also senior editor at People magazine, tell co-anchor Harry Smith what their predictions are on the five major categories: best picture, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.

Their choices are below:

Best Picture: Hibberd says it should be and will be "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" because it is the single most amazing cinematic feat that has ever been accomplished, and it has yet to be honored. Cagle agrees the Peter Jackson's film should win, but he predicts the movie that will get the trophy will be "Mystic River." He points out that "Mystic River" has many acting nominations, which is usually a good sign for a movie. "Lord of the Rings," on the other hand, didn't get any acting nominations.

Best Actor: Hibberd says Sean Penn should win and will win. In her opinion, Penn gave an emotionally gut-wrenching performance in "Mystic River" and has a body of work that stands out. What may hurt him is his anti awards show stance, but he's trying to be good this time around, she notes.

Cagle's pick, to Hibberd's surprise, is Johnny Depp for his performance in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." Hibberd says, "I have to ask, are you on Disney's payroll? Come on, are you kidding me?"

But Cagle stands by his choice. He says, "There was not a single nominee in this category who does not deserve to be there. However, Johnny Depp was the one - a comic masterpiece." He, however, acknowledges that the Oscar probably will go to Penn, partially for lifetime achievement. And notes the tremendous support the actor and the film has gotten.

Best Actress: Hibberd says Charlize Theron deserves to win, but Diane Keaton will be the one selected. She considers Theron's performance in "Monster" the biggest stretch of any of the actresses, but notes Keaton has been in Hollywood for a long time and is absolutely loved by all the old academy members.

Hibberd says everyone loves a comeback, but Cagle disagrees. He says, "I don't know, a few years ago we were saying Lauren Bacall for that Barbra Streisand movie. She didn't win. I think that Charlize Theron is going to win, but I think Naomi Watts was the better performance."

He says the reason Watts will not win is because not many people have seen "21 Grams." But he says her performance in the film, about a woman who loses her family and descends into drugs and revenge, was the richest and most affecting.

As for Theron, he says a lot of people in the academy were sending a message that we are looking at smaller independent films, and obviously this was one of them. Plus, people love when an actor takes a risk. Last year, Nicole Kidman won for "The Hours" and it certainly didn't hurt that she played down her beauty with a fake nose.

Best Supporting Actor: Both Hibberd and Cagle agree Alec Baldwin deserves to win for his performance in "The Cooler," but Cagle, unlike Hibberd, thinks the academy's pick will probably be Tim Robbins.

Hibberd says, "I love Alec Baldwin. He's a great actor, an incredible role for him. He should get it and he will get it."

Cagle adds, "I think that he should get it also. He's been great. When it became clear that he was not going to be this major leading man movie star, he started doing these great character roles."

Best Supporting Actress: Hibberd says Holly Hunter should win for "Thirteen," but predicts Renee Zellweger will take the trophy. Cagle feels that Shohreh Aghdashloo deserves to win, but agrees that Zellweger will win since "Cold Mountain" received seven nominations, indicating a great enthusiasm for the film.