Here are two of the trickiest categories you’ll encounter, especially this year. In some years, one grand film will sweep these two awards, along with Visual Effects. “King Kong” did exactly that last year and other blockbusters like “The Matrix” and “Titanic” also pulled the hat trick. This year, one film is nominated across the board: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.” Though “Pirates” scored major box office booty and featured very good effects, we’re not quite so sure it’s on the same level as “King Kong.” That said, let’s check out the nominees for Best Sound.

“Apocalypto”
“Blood Diamond”
“Dreamgirls”
“Flags of Our Fathers”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

Poor Kevin O’Connell. He’s been nominated 19 times without a win and he’s back once again. Unfortunately, it’s for the film “Apocalypto.” History shows that it’s the movie, not the person, that matters. He’ll have to wait another year. “Dreamgirls” is the odds-on favorite. Previous musicals “Chicago” and “Ray” both won the sound award and Michael Minkler, one of the sound technicians for “Dreamgirls,” also did the work for “Chicago.” “Dreamgirls” also recently won the top prize from the Cinema Audio Society, although this may be a mixed bag, since the last five CAS winners failed to take home the Oscar.

The only real question is whether or not there is a “Dreamgirls” backlash and how big it is. Somehow, we have a hard time seeing “Dreamgirls” nail all six categories for which it has nominations. If that’s the case, this could be one of them that slips from their grasp. “Pirates” could benefit from this scenario, so if you’re looking for an upset to differentiate yourself in your pool, keep that in mind. We’re sticking with the favorite for now.

Our pick: “Dreamgirls”

Sound editing is another minor category that befuddles experts. Two years ago, “The Incredibles” took home the Oscar over “Spider Man 2,” destroying the theory that the biggest blockbusters always win. Look at the names of past winners in this category and tell me if they have much in common. “King Kong.” “The Ghost and the Darkness.” “Pearl Harbor.” “U-571.” “The Incredibles.” “Titanic.”

Here are this year’s nominees…

“Apocalypto”
“Blood Diamond”
“Flags of Our Fathers”
“Letters From Iwo Jima:
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

It should be noted that the same person (Alan Robert Murray) is nominated for both “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.” You know how this works. Either it’s a split vote and another film wins, or voters realize the guy is super deserving and pick one over the other. Our first impression is to go with the latter scenario. “Letters” was more popular than “Flags” among Academy members, and it is a Best Picture nominee. Since it’s not likely to win anywhere else, perhaps this will be its one consolation prize. Also, the sound editing was indeed quite incredible, especially the bombs dropping over the caves.

But on the other hand, “Pirates” is the bigger and more widely seen film. The effects from “Letters” may not play as well on DVD screeners than “Pirates,” which most people probably watched in the theater. Plus, just call it a hunch.

Our pick: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”