8:00 p.m., Eastern Time: We bloggers have been demeaned, referred to as nothing more than guys in pajamas, who write from our basements.

As I sit in my basement, clad in pajamas (and a bathrobe -- with slippers, no less!), preparing to blog my thoughts on the Oscars as they are televised, I think the critics are on to something. But as the political bloggers shook the world during the 2004 elections (Time magazine noted their influence and began to name its "Bloggers of the Year" shortly thereafter), it's time for this blogger to shake up the staid, self-congratulatory awards show.

That is, if I can stay awake.

I've just caught the final moments of Barbara Walter's Oscars interview with Eddie Murphy. Funny stuff. Reminds me of why I'm hoping Murphy will win, overcoming a remarkable smear campaign (by one particular Oscar blogger!) against his nomination.

Time for a half-hour preview show before the official ceremony kicks off. That'll give me enough time to look over the list of nominees once more, and make my final predictions. What's my track record at predicting Oscar wins? Not bad. I'm 36 years old and have been watching the broadcast annually since I was 12, I think. But that's beside the point. Truth is, these awards are very predictable. By the time the Oscars rolls around, we've had the Golden Globes and a variety of awards specific to the different branches of the Academy -- the actors, directors, cinematographers, editors, etc.

The heavy favorites are well known, but this year is a little different. Best Picture is a toss-up. "Babel" had a moment several weeks ago where it was considered a slight favorite, but that's since subsided. Predictions now are that "Little Miss Sunshine" will become the first comedy since "Annie Hall" to win the top prize, unless "The Departed," by far the highest grossing of the five Best Picture nominees, pulls it off.

The director of "The Departed," Martin Scorcese, is as close to a lock as there can be at the Oscars. This is his year, and because the conventional wisdom says that the Best Picture winner so often is the best directed film of the year, it stands to reason that Scorcese's inevitable victory will give his film a leg up.

Except that "The Departed" is a dark, violent film, and that’s thought to weigh against its chances, particularly with older Academy members, who aren't so enamored with the bullet-to-the-head imagery of Scorcese's gangster epic.

What about the actors? Jennifer Hudson is a big favorite for her supporting role in "Dreamgirls," while Helen Mirren is an even more certain winner than Scorcese for her performance in the title role of "The Queen." Among the male actors, things are less certain. Forest Whitaker has won nearly every other accolade for his role as Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland," but Peter O'Toole has never won a competitive Oscar. His role in "Venus" may help him pull out a sentimental victory in the Best Actor category. Among the supporting actors, Eddie Murphy is favored to win for his role in "Dreamgirls," but Alan Arkin has an outside shot as the crude grandfather in "Little Miss Sunshine."

Enough of that. You've read it all before, right? Even if you haven't, you don't care all that much. We're down to 15 minutes until airtime. I've mentioned the favorites in the major categories. What about my preferences? Here they are:

Best Picture: "Babel"

Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland

Best Actress: Kate Winslet, "Little Children"

Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"

Best Supporting Actress: Adriana Barraza, "Babel"

Best Director: Paul Greengrass, "United 93"

Best Foreign Language Film: "Pan's Labyrinth"

Best Cinematography: "The Black Dahlia"

Best Adapted Screenplay: "Little Children"

Best Original Screenplay: "Pan's Labyrinth"

My Upset Pick: Adriana Barraza, for "Babel"

Seven minutes till show time.

8:30: It begins! Famous folks speaking in soundbytes against a white backdrop. Some not so famous faces get the best lines. One man says he's been nominated 7 times and has never won, and tonight will be his eighth loss. Eddie Murphy gets a big laugh just by staring at the camera.