Hollywood -- from stars to behind-the-scenes personnel -- buzzed with tension
as Oscar voters cast their ballots for the winners of cinema's top prizes just
hours ahead of the vote deadline.
The 5,798 members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences have
until 5:00 pm to hand in their completed ballots Tuesday before auditors begin
tallying them to determine who will take home the big awards on Sunday.
"Any ballots received after 5:00 pm will not be counted or taken into account
for the Oscars," said Academy communications chief John Pavlik.
But with the fate of this year's
crop of golden statuettes almost sealed, Hollywood awards experts and movie fans
wagering on the Oscars contest were
betting that Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain," moving tale of a star-crossed homosexual love story between two
cowboys will rope in the major prizes, including best picture.
"Brokeback" gallops into the show armed with a leading eight Academy Awards,
including best picture, best director, best actor for Australian Heath Ledger,
best supporting actor for co-star Jake Gyllenhaal and best supporting actress
for Michelle Williams.
But only two people will know whether the daring
and controversial romance has indeed lassoed the top Oscars ahead of the ceremony to be
held at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre on Sunday night: the auditors.
Two partners of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers will oversee the
tabulation of the votes of Academy members and slip the winners' names into the
famous foil-lined envelopes that
will be opened onstage.(Agencies)