Later tonight, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association will unveil their annual awards. Will they follow in the footsteps of the National Board of Review and honor “Letters From Iwo Jima” or will they vault another film into the upper echelon of Oscar contenders? Historically, the LAFCA has bestowed honors on both Best Picture nominees as well as more obscure, but critically acclaimed movies. Past winners include “Brokeback Mountain,” “Sideways,” “About Schmidt,” “American Splendor,” “In the Bedroom,” and “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.” Here are our predictions:

Best Picture: “Letters From Iwo Jima”

Best Director: Clint Eastwood, “Letters From Iwo Jima”

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Departed”

Best Actress: Helen Mirren “The Queen”

Best Supporting Actor: Jackie Earle Haley, “Little Children”

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls”

Most people are predicting “The Departed” for top film, which is a real possibility. But we think the LAFCA will want to be more inventive, since Scorsese’s gangster drama is already a lock for Best Picture. By echoing the NBR’s top film selection, LAFCA will strongly influence the Oscar race by making “Letters From Iwo Jima” the film to beat. It was also said that Eastwood himself was widely available to the LA film critics recently during screenings of his film, another good sign. Furthermore, LAFCA has a history of awarding foreign language films since they chose “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” in 2000.

In the acting categories, we believe LAFCA will launch the candidacy of local boy Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor. An accomplished actor and previous Best Actor nominee, DiCaprio has a real chance to capture his first gold statuette this year in a relatively weak actor’s field. Though LAFCA has often gone with lesser known leading ladies in the actress category, we think Helen Mirren of “The Queen” will be tough to ignore this year. The supporting categories are pretty much a tossup, but we believe the LAFCA will like “Little Children,” an underrated, powerful film and decide to throw it some sort of a bone. Jennifer Hudson has been buzzed extensively for “Dreamgirls,” although if she is passed over, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise at this point. Something tells us “Dreamgirls” may have to wait until the Golden Globes to get any serious recognition.The Bucket List movies