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By Alisha Davis
CNN Headline News

Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones in a scene from "Chicago."

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(CNN) -- With the 75th annual Academy Awards set to be handed out March 23, the Oscar race is in full swing and academy voters are busy filling out their ballots. How will the votes add up? Here are my early predictions as to who will take home Oscar in the top categories.

The nominations for Best Picture:
"Chicago"
"Gangs of New York"
"The Hours"
"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"
"The Pianist"

Expect "Chicago" to razzle dazzle 'em at the Oscars this year. It leads the pack with 13 nominations, and although it faces tough competition from the other films in the category, I predict "Chicago" will emerge the big winner and take home the big prize: Best Picture.

The nominations for Best Director:
Pedro Almodovar ("Talk to Her")
Stephen Daldry ("The Hours")
Rob Marshall ("Chicago")
Roman Polanski ("The Pianist")
Martin Scorsese ("Gangs of New York")

Home to the Oscars' most controversial nominee (convicted child molester Roman Polanski), the Best Director category may also be home to the night's most controversial winner. Many have said "Gangs of New York" is not Martin Scorsese's best film. Still, it's the one that will likely earn the man behind "Taxi Driver," "Mean Streets," and "Raging Bull" his first Oscar.

The nominations for Best Actor:
Adrien Brody ("The Pianist")
Nicolas Cage ("Adaptation")
Michael Caine ("The Quiet American")
Daniel Day-Lewis ("Gangs of New York")
Jack Nicholson ("About Schmidt")

His 12th time on the ballot, Jack Nicholson is the most nominated male actor in Oscar history, and come March 23, there's a very good chance that he'll add another historic notch to his belt by winning a record fourth Oscar trophy.

The nominations for Best Actress:
Salma Hayek ("Frida")
Nicole Kidman ("The Hours")
Diane Lane ("Unfaithful")
Julianne Moore ("Far From Heaven")
Renee Zellweger ("Chicago")

The field in this category is about as strong as it has ever been, with Nicole Kidman and double nominee Julianne Moore (she's also nominated in the supporting category for her work in "The Hours"). The race is between Kidman and Zellweger, with Kidman ahead by a prosthetic nose.


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