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The Oscars Comes to Town - View From a Brit in Hollywood

25/02/2016 18:01 GMT | Updated 25/02/2017 10:12 GMT

Most places have spring, summer, autumn and winter. But it's said that Los Angeles only has two seasons. Pilot season and awards season.

The latter comes to a spectacular finale with the Academy Awards this Sunday, which takes place at the Dolby Theatre in the heart of Hollywood.

I have avidly watched every Oscars ceremony in full for the past 15 years. Most times with the added excitement of being in Los Angeles while the town gets taken over by journalists, film-makers, hangers-on and genuine glitterati. Here's the one party in this town which the Kardashians are not invited to, the Academy Awards are triple A-List only.

I have also stayed up all night to watch it in London and even once watched from small television in the corner of my rented apartment in San Francisco. This is my most sacred viewing ritual of the year.

Even the stars complain that it's too long, but the ritual of watching all the movies and making my picks has become almost a religion to me.

This has got a lot more onerous since the list of Best Picture nominees increased from five to ten in March 2010. By the way, that was also the year that the Hurt Locker won Best Picture and caused one of the biggest surprise upsets in the category, beating James Cameron's Avatar.

The boost in money, credibility and career is why for months before the Oscars, film-makers are hard-pitching for their movie to take home one of the coveted gongs. The roadside billboards across Los Angeles don't advertise fast food or movies to their audiences, they are directly worded 'For Your Consideration' at the voting members of the Academy with whom their future lies.

Every other awards ceremony in the run-up is seen as a warm-up and indicator as to who would take home the big ones later. The Oscar. The Golden statuette.

Winning an Oscar does bring that box-office boost and for the winners it means that Important People will take your call. Box-office hits are rarely nominees, and much less often winners. Frankly, Hollywood seems to be making Marvel movies but awarding great stories which don't get bums on seats in the same way. Spotlight is a gripping and important story, well-acted, well-told. More people watched 50 Shades of Grey.

The main thoroughfare through Hollywood is shut for days before, and literally no one minds. Huge giant statuettes are erected in the middle of the street, fences, bridges - an entire media village - no, city - is built. The buzz that the Oscars are coming to town exudes from every other business, from every conversation, every visual.

It's a bit like 100 simultaneous wedding days. Choosing a dress, shoes, maybe shedding a couple of pounds or trying out different hair-styles, the preparation that goes into the day is enormous business. Hairdressers, make-up artists and stylists all liaising to create the look which will get their client on the front pages for the right reasons, and be scrutinised by the 43 million people watching on TV.

I once visited the Dolby Theatre on rehearsal day, the day before the main event. Having worked in live television for many years, I was fascinated to see the workings of the slick operation, which ensures the show goes off without a hitch. The Oscars may be filled with a host of big names and famous faces - all preened, primed, trussed and limo-ed to the red carpet, but it's pulled together by a cast of literally thousands.

In the most competitive city in the world, the whistle is blown for the world's greatest race. High-heels on (and that's just the guys!), they pelt for the finish, keen to take the gold - but there's no points for looking like you're trying. The stars have to try to pretend they don't care, of course, it's not cool to give away just how much you want to win an Oscar, because 'it's all about the art', obviously. Simultaneously and unsubtly they then drop stories into every interview in the weeks before about how deep they went into character (Anne Hathaway, I'm looking at you for Les Mis) or how much of a struggle the filming conditions were (see Leo Di Caprio, this year).

I'll be rooting for Leo this year, even though I really think he should have won for the Wolf of Wall Street, I also think Matthew McConaughey deserved it that year (2014) - so as with every competition it really does depend how good your competitors are.

Brie Larson is my pick for Best Actress, and I'll be rooting for the excellent and innovative Anomolisa in the Animated category.

And in a few months... the circus will begin all over again.