Who chooses the Oscar winners?
The race for the Oscars usually begins in November when studios with a chance in any of the categories begin canvassing the almost 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
New rules prohibit gifts and other gimmicks, so the principal methods of campaigning are advertisements in trade papers and on their airwaves, free screenings and the mailing of DVDs.
Nomination ballots are mailed to Academy members in late December and are due back to international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in January.
Regular awards are presented for outstanding individual or collective film achievements in up to 25 categories. Members from each of the trade branches of the Academy vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories - actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors and so on.
However, within the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominations are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees.
All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.
The results of the nomination balloting are announced in the third week of January. Final ballots are mailed to voting members in late-January and are due back the Tuesday prior to Oscar Sunday for final tabulation.
The Academy's entire active membership is eligible to select Oscar winners in all categories, although in five - Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject and Foreign Language Film - members can vote only after attesting that they have seen all of the nominated films in those categories.
After final ballots are tabulated, only two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results until the envelopes are opened onstage during the Academy Awards presentation.
The 81st annual Academy Awards will be held Sunday in Los Angeles (Monday morning in India).