With this past week's blast of award fever -- namely the Producers' Guild and Actors' Guild awards -- Hollywood Oscar experts have narrowed down the top three categories, according to a recent Reuters report.

The Departed and Dreamgirls have become the front-runners for Best Picture, one coasting through on its genuine quality and fine work from everyone concerned, and the other riding a huge wave of carefully calculated -- and very effective -- hype. Little Miss Sunshine and Babel are the next two choices. Vying for the fifth spot, we have a tie between contenders like The Queen, United 93 and -- apparently -- Bobby (if they're going to nominate a Lindsay Lohan movie, why not A Prairie Home Companion instead?). The experts are hedging their bets until the Director's Guild announces its five nominees on Tuesday. (Clint Eastwood could sneak in with a Best Director nod for Letters from Iwo Jima, but probably not Best Picture.)

Best Actress is more securely locked up, according to one expert. The five hopefuls are Helen Mirren for The Queen, Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal, Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada, Penelope Cruz for Volver and Kate Winslet for Little Children. To date, Winslet has racked up four nominations and no wins (this will be her fifth), but Mirren has all the momentum. If you have a farm, I'd bet it on Mirren.

Experts are less sure about Best Actor. Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland (really a supporting role), the marvellous Peter O'Toole for Venus and Will Smith for The Pursuit of Happyness appear to be front-runners. Leonardo DiCaprio is also a top contender, but experts are split over his performances in The Departed and Blood Diamond (not a hard choice -- one's a good movie, and the other isn't). The buzz has Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson sneaking in to nab the fifth slot.

All these speculations aside, the most burning question of all remains: How exactly does one get to be an Oscar expert?