OWEN GLEIBERMAN'S OSCAR PICKS
BEST ACTOR Johnny Depp Sean Penn, while commanding, sheds a few too many showy tears, and I've never bought Bill Murray as a hurtin' soul. Depp's slurry clowning in ''Pirates of the Caribbean,'' on the other hand, is the purest of play. He embodies an old-school pirate with modern enchantment.
BEST ACTRESS Charlize Theron I wish that ''Monster'' were a better movie, but Theron, in a transformation as startling as one of Lon Chaney's, plays the bitter, ravaged sociopath Aileen Wuornos with a scavenger's unmoored ego and a killer's cold sweat.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Benicio Del Toro As a man seared by guilt over his inner violence, he creates the cinema's most authentic portrait of a haunted ex-con. Tender, as explosive as nitro, possessed by Jesus: In ''21 Grams,'' Del Toro sets contradictions aflame.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Holly Hunter As the troubled mother in ''Thirteen'' who watches her daughter become an unreachable punk princess, Hunter wires you into the fearful sadness of a woman who loves but is powerless to heal.
BEST SCREENPLAY -- ORIGINAL ''Finding Nemo'' One of the Pixar wizards' secret weapons is the joyful, razzing wit with which their characters talk, and this is the jazziest, most intricate compendium of Pixar wordplay since the first ''Toy Story.''
BEST SCREENPLAY -- ADAPTED ''American Splendor'' A miracle of empathy and of innovation too: It spins the life of Harvey Pekar into a movie that turns into a comic, then back into life, mirroring the moxie of a man who found art in his ordinariness.