The Oscar race is about to get real interesting this Friday when the Broadcast Film Critics Association, aka Critics Choice Awards, announce their winners. This is the first major awards show and all eyes will be on Best Picture. There are ten films nominated for the top award and the winner Friday will be instantly regarded as an Oscar frontrunner.

In the past films such as “A Beautiful Mind,” “Chicago,” and “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” all captured the Broadcast Best Picture prize. Obviously, all of those films went on to win the Academy Award. Of course, Broadcast also bestowed honors on “Sideways,” and “Brokeback Mountain,” who didn’t fare as well. In the acting categories, the winners are more of a sure thing, especially if you consider years past. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jaime Foxx, Reese Witherspoon, and Hilary Swank (your last four Oscar acting winners) all won the Broadcast award. Of course this year, it won’t be a big surprise since Forest Whitaker and Helen Mirren have swept every precursor award imaginable. Still, there’s always that tiny moment of drama right before the name is read. We all look forward to that.

Without further adieu, here are our predictions:

Best Picture: “United 93”

We’ll either be brilliant or extremely foolish. The smart money is probably on “The Departed,” but these are the broadcast critics, which means people like Roger Ebert, and we think they’ll opt for something important and timely as opposed to entertaining and thoughtful. Besides, “United 93” has won the majority of the individual critics awards around the country.

Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland”

He’s won just about everything. All that stands in the way of Oscar is a good speech.

Best Actress: Helen Mirren, “The Queen”

100% lock.

Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, “Dreamgirls”

What a performance for the legendary comic actor. With Jackie Earle Haley (“Little Children”) not in this category, the award is Eddie’s to lose.

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls”

Should be close between her and Rinko Kikuchi of “Babel.” We think the critics will go for Hudson since she has the better story (former American Idol contestant).

Best Acting Ensemble: “The Departed”

How can you go wrong with Dicaprio, Matt Damon, and the master himself Jack Nicholson? Throw in Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen…and you got one of the best casts ever for a motion picture.

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, “The Departed”

Some of the critics love Greengrass, but they’ll want Marty to get his due at the Oscars, which means giving him this crucial award.

Best Writer: William Monahan, “The Departed”

His screenplay had some of the best dialogue we’ve heard in years. More love for “The Departed.”

Best Animated Feature: “Happy Feet”

“Cars” was probably the better film, but “Happy Feet” more innovative. The critics may be a little tired of Pixar by now.

Best Young Actor: Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, “The Pursuit of Happyness.”

How can you not give it to Will Smith’s kid? Besides, he was terrific in the film.

Best Young Actress: Abigail Breslin, “Little Miss Sunshine”

Dakota Fanning owns this category, and she’s certainly a contender for “Charlotte’s Web,” but Breslin stars in the more critically acclaimed film, so we’ll swing things her way.

Best Comedy Movie: “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit blah blah blah…”

It’s the phenomenon of the year and one of the most original films in recent memory. How can the critics resist?

Best Family Film: “Charlotte’s Web”

We’ll stage a formal protest if they give it to the lackluster, but immensely popular “Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

Best Picture Made for Television: “When the Levees Broke”

Too important for the critics to ignore.

Best Documentary Feature: “An Inconvenient Truth”

I don’t know if Al Gore will attend, but if so, this acceptance speech could be the first step in his 2008 Presidential campaign. Not only the best documentary of the year, but one of the year’s best films period.

Best Foreign Language Film: “Letters From Iwo Jima”

With the film losing steam, this is a must win for Eastwood’s epic war movie. It should win, although “Pan’s Labyrinth” has been turning a lot of heads lately.

Best Song: “I Need to Wake Up,” Melissa Etheridge – “An Inconvenient Truth”

In a weak category, we’ll give it to the year’s “most important” song.

Best Soundtrack: “Dreamgirls”

How can you not love Jennifer Hudson belting “And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going?” Deliciously entertaining.

Best Composer: Hans Zimmer, “The Da Vinci Code”

Call it a hunch.

The Violent Kind film