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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 09:21 GMT
Oscars voters decide on winners
Oscars ballots
Oscars winners will be kept under wraps until Sunday's ceremony
Votes to decide who will triumph at this year's Oscars are being counted amid secrecy and security after the deadline for ballots passed on Tuesday.

Almost 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were eligible to vote for the winners.

With eight nominations, Brokeback Mountain is the favourite going into Sunday's Hollywood award show.

The votes are being compiled by two accountants - the only people who will know the winners before the ceremony.

Rick Rosas and Brad Oltmanns from PricewaterhouseCoopers began the count in a conference room at an undisclosed location after the deadline expired.

Brad Oltmanns (left) and Rick Rosas (right) of PricewaterhouseCoopers with Oscars Ballots
The ballots were sent to voters on 8 February
The ballot forms are being kept in a locked safe and Mr Rosas and Mr Oltmanns will prepare the envelopes containing the winners' names.

They will each take an identical set of envelopes to the ceremony on Sunday using different routes, accompanied by police.

Those envelopes will not be opened until Mr Rosas and Mr Oltmanns hand them to the star presenters, who will reveal the winners on stage at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

And in case anything happens to the envelopes, Mr Rosas and Mr Oltmanns also memorise the winners.

"I've always said the keeping of the secret is actually one of the easiest parts of this," Mr Rosas said.

OSCARS VOTING
6,000 ballots sent to members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences
Members had from 8-28 February to return ballots
Two men spend three days counting final votes
Two sets of 24 envelopes taken to ceremony
12 people have counted votes in 72 years
The movie industry's most celebrated and influential figures from both behind the scenes and in front of the camera had 20 days to cast their votes.

PricewaterhouseCoopers has handled the Oscars ballots for 72 years - with only 12 people taking part in the count over the years.

"In the 72 years of counting and validating the Academy Awards ballots, there has never been a security breach," Mr Oltmanns said. "I am proud to be part of the tradition for years to come."

Brokeback Mountain, about two 1960s cowboys who struggle with their sexualities, is hotly tipped to take the top prizes.

It will face competition from other contenders including Crash, Good Night, and Good Luck, Munich and Capote.

  • Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez has joined the list of stars who will hand out statuettes at the Academy Awards.

    Lopez has carved out a film career in movies such as Monster-in-Law, Maid in Manhattan and The Wedding Planner.

    Other big names already confirmed to present Oscars include Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Jamie Foxx and George Clooney.


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