I’m hoping for Hugh Grant and Nia Vardalos

Here’s a not-so-fearless prediction: “Chicago” will razzle-dazzle the competition and lead the nominations when they’re announced early Tuesday morning.
By common consent among my industry sources, “Chicago” is the heaviest Best Picture favorite since “Titanic.”
Some of us critics may complain about Richard Gere’s lead-footed hoofing, Ren√àe Zellweger’s unsteady vocals, the choppy editing and director Rob Marshall’s dreary visual sense.
But the film’s Oscar-savvy distributor, Miramax, has mounted a campaign that brilliantly capitalizes on many Oscar voters’ appetite for musicals.
Another Best Picture slot is assured for the winner of the Golden Globes’ drama division: “The Hours.”
The third sure thing for Best Picture, insiders say, is the phenomenal “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” – the only picture on the list a sizable number of Americans have seen. But it will not lead nominations as “The Fellowship of the Ring” did last year and almost nobody expects it has much of a shot at Best Picture this time.
That leaves two fiercely contested Best Picture slots.
Some West Coast insiders I’ve spoken to insist that “About Schmidt” has the fourth slot sewn up, but other Academy members aren’t so sure. Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates seem assured of nominations, but there are doubts the academy will include a comedy (even a dark one about a midlife crisis) in a field dominated by a musical.
Similarly, there’s a dark cloud hanging over “The Pianist,” a Holocaust drama that has been rapidly gaining ground for Best Picture. That cloud is director Roman Polanski, a fugitive from Hollywood who fled to Paris in 1978 to avoid sentencing after pleading guilty to sexually abusing a minor.
And then there’s the murky candidacy of “Gangs of New York,” an ultra-violent and wildly uneven epic that has received a very mixed reception but does seem to fit the classic profile of a Best Picture nominee: a hugely ambitious big-budget epic with a megabucks marketing push.
More important, the consensus is that “Gangs” director Martin Scorsese seems to be leading the race for Best Director.
I’m guessing the academy will hold its nose and nominate “Gangs” as Best Picture so Scorsese can collect his guilt-based award.
The final slot, I’m tipping, will go to “The Pianist” – I figure it’s hard for Oscar to resist the Holocaust.