Oscars battle of the titans

2005-02-27 20:15
Hollywood - Stars were set to strut their stuff on the Oscars' red carpet with the world watching Sunday, as Clint Eastwood braced to see if his Million Dollar Baby would knock out Martin Scorsese's The Aviator on the film industry's biggest night of the year.

As top talent readied gowns, jewels and tuxedoes, organisers of the 77th annual Academy Awards frantically put final touches on the famed red carpet and show ahead of the start of Tinseltown's biggest night at 17:00 (01:00 GMT on Monday).

"It's real busy in the house, we are in the final, frenzied hours now," said spokesperson John Pavlik at the Oscar show's buzzing venue, Hollywood's Kodak Theatre.

About 3 300 VIPs, including the world's biggest stars, were due to begin arriving at the foot of the massive crimson carpet at 15:30 (11:30 GMT on Sunday) to be greeted by a blaze of flashbulbs and the screams of 300 hand-picked fans.

The arrivals ceremony, which like the Oscars is watched by up to a billion television viewers across the globe, is considered by many to be the greatest fashion show on earth.

Celebrities parade down the carpet - lined with giant Oscars statuettes, hundreds of journalists and a bleacher full of fans - in designer gowns, wearing millions of dollars worth of diamonds and jewels.

Facelift

This year's Oscars ceremony, to be hosted by racy and irreverent comedian Chris Rock, has undergone a facelift in a bid to woo new viewers.

Some winners will be presented their awards in their seats after the famous envelopes are opened, rather than on stage, while others will walk up the aisle in the old fashioned way.

And this year's cliffhanger race in the major categories is a far cry from the absolute dominance of the final Lord of the Rings movie last year.

Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator and their Hollywood heavyweight directors look set for a dramatic showdown after Eastwood's drama about a female boxer appeared to upset an early lead taken by Scorsese's lavish biopic about the life of eccentric US billionaire Howard Hughes.

Baby is now favoured by pundits to snatch the coveted best picture and best director awards despite The Aviator's leading 11 nominations.

Completing the best picture line-up are Ray, Taylor Hackford's biopic of soul legend Ray Charles, with six nominations, and Alexander Payne's bittersweet California road movie, Sideways, with five nods.

Red hot star Jamie Foxx, 37, is seen as the clear frontrunner for the best actor Oscar for his stunning performance as the blind singer and pianist who died last year.

  • South Africa's Yesterday is competing in the best foreign movie category.

    Set in a rural village in the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal, it tells the story of a courageous HIV-positive woman with just one aim in her life - to live long enough to see her young daughter go to school.

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