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Sites take temperature of Oscar watchers

The Net is catching Oscar fever, with sites gearing up for heightened interest from movie fans ahead of the announcement of nominees, expected early Tuesday.

The Net is catching Oscar fever.

With the list of nominees for the 74th annual Academy Awards expected early Tuesday, Web sites are gearing up for heightened interest from movie fans., one of the official sites for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is hosting a game that will let film lovers predict the winners after nominees are announced. It also provides a variety of news, history and photos on the event.

And for the first time, Oscar devotees clamoring to peek at movie stars walking down the red carpet can register via for advance seating to the preshow instead of camping out on city sidewalks for a choice viewpoint.

News and community site OscarWatch features an Oscar nomination contest that has attracted nearly 2,000 people, according to the site's editor. The site also will run its annual contest to pick the award winners, which typically attracts up to 4,000 players. Players can win books and various prizes.

This year, OscarWatch will provide comparative charts to other awards and a gallery of the Oscar campaigns. The games regularly draw the most interest, however.

"The response to the contests--both the (Golden) Globes and the (Academy Award) nominations--has been overwhelming this year," said Sasha Stone, editor of OscarWatch. "In fact, my visitor count for last month was higher than March last year," prime Oscar season.

Stone said she believes that interest in her site has increased since the entertainment news site folded during the economic downturn.

The Hollywood Reporter is playing host to its own Oscar Watch page, with daily nominee news and a timeline of events.

The Web site for Hollywood rag Variety is offering an Academy Award tracker and prediction list, but only for subscribers. The site, which charges about $13 a month for access, lets people predict winners for each category and shows a chart of the most popular picks. The award tracker, which will list the top 50 "oracles" who picked the most winners, is part of the site's Award Central section, which publishes daily news and features on the Oscars and other ceremonies.

A bevy of sites offer a history of the Academy Awards, including lists of past winners since the ceremony's inception in 1929.