There are, in fact, two ''official'' Oscar sites. OSCAR.COM is the more consumer-friendly (and advertisement-heavy) of the pair and includes fashion galleries, a tour of the Kodak Theatre, and a list of international broadcasters that will be carrying the presentation (it's airing on Ho Chi Minh Television/HCMT7 if you happen to be in Saigon this Sunday). OSCARS.ORG is the online home to the award's governing body, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Here, you can find a database of past winners and information on how to score a bleacher seat (for next year's show, that is this year's red-carpet spectators were notified months ago). And spend some time looking over the award show rules you'll be the hit of your Oscar party when you drop some serious Academy science: ''Oh, look, it's Happy Feet! Say, did you guys know an animated feature film is defined as a motion picture created using a frame-by-frame technique of at least 70 minutes in running time with a significant number of the major characters animated, and in which animation figures in no less than 75% of the picture's running time?''
Visit OSCARWATCH to find daily updates of relevant news and links (particularly bellwether-ish awards from trade organizations like the Art Directors Guild or the American Society of Cinematographers). The site also provides a handy breakdown of AMPAS' 5,830 members, from the largest voting bloc (1,260 actors) to the smallest (115 makeup artists).
A nice alternative to Oscar.org's database of past winners and nominees (which requires search words) is the year-by-year listings on the Academy Awards page at FILMSITE.ORG. We learned that in 1930, there were two Academy Awards ceremonies (in April and November) the first and only time statuettes were presented twice in the same calendar year. And that up until 1943, winners of Best Supporting Actor and Actress honors were only given miniature plaques.
It's probably not the most elegant way to judge the brilliance of Helen Mirren's performance or the razor-sharp editing in Babel, but a nice selection of trailers of this year's Oscar nominees can be viewed at APPLE'S ACADEMY AWARDS QUICKTIME MOVIE SITE.
Finally, in recognition of a being even more powerful than Bill Conti, ADHERENTS.COM has put together a list of the affiliations of past Best Director winners. Our favorite? 1986 winner Oliver Stone (Platoon) whose beliefs have apparently been informed by a Jewish father, a Catholic mother, an Episcopalian upbringing, and, later, a conversion to Tibetan Buddhism.