Saturday, February 6, 1999 Published at 06:19 GMT
Hollywood's annual dawn ritual
BBC News Online's Entertainment Correspondent Tom Brook in Hollywood gives his predictions for Tuesday's Oscar nominations.
At 5.30am Pacific Standard Time on Tuesday 9 February a seismic event will hit Los Angeles.
No, not an earthquake, just one of the biggest events in the annual showbiz calendar - the moment when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces this year's crop of Oscar contenders.
Dawn in Los Angeles means news of the Oscar nominees reaches millions of breakfast TV viewers on the east coast of the US, as well as lunchtime and evening audiences in Europe and points further east.
The academy's strategic thinking highlights the growing importance of its awards as promotional tools - in addition to recognising excellence.
Within hours of Tuesday's ceremony movie marketers around the world will capitalise on the announcement by emblazoning "Oscar nominated" across a wealth of advertising materials for Academy recognised films.
In some cases movies will be re-released to cash in on the promotional push brought about by the nominations. In America, Saving Private Ryan has already jumped the gun. It is being re-released this weekend.
I will witness the ritual at first hand, rising at 3am on Tuesday to make my way to the academy headquarters in Beverly Hills to join the angst-ridden brigades of other journalists, movie star agents, publicists, technicians, and Academy officials.
Many of this year's Oscar hopefuls - stars, directors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and costume designers - will be lying in bed after a sleepless night, hanging on every word that follows. This is what I think they will hear in the key categories:
Tom's top tips
(Each category has five nominees - in some instances I have only been able to name the more obvious contenders).
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Original Screenplay
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
A good year for the Brits?
Once again it is probably going to be an excellent year for overseas talent at the Oscars, especially for Britain, and probably for Italy too, with Roberto Benigni's much-admired Life Is Beautiful.
Reviewing the list reflects the lack of respect the academy has for home-grown Hollywood product. Most of its members work locally in thefilm industry, and many make their money from blockbusters, like last year's top-grossing Armageddon.
The headline that I think will emerge next Tuesday is that this year's Oscar race has become a contest between Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan. They could end up in a dead heat leading the pack in terms of nominations.
Which film will emerge with the most trophies at the Oscars ceremony on Sunday 21 March?
Well, we must wait and see, but I will give you a few good tips in the coming weeks. So, watch this space!
Tom Brook writes this regular entertainment column exclusively for BBC News Online.
A well-known BBC entertainment correspondent, Tom has lived in New York and travelled extensively in the US for the past 20 years.
He has reported on cinema throughout his broadcasting career - interviewing most of the top Hollywood stars and directors and attending nearly all the Oscar ceremonies in the past 15 years while keeping up with new trends in mainstream and independent cinema.
TV and Radio