Shelley L. AckermanIn 'Singing in the Rain,' the 1952 spoof of 1927 Hollywood scrambling to segue from silent films to 'talkies', actress Jean Hagen brilliantly played the nasal-voiced caricature of the dumb-like-a-fox blonde screen star Lina Lamont. She was about to get her come-uppance in the form of a perky ingénue, played by Debbie Reynolds, who with sincerity and a beautiful singing voice walked away with the leading man (Gene Kelly) and Lamont's spot as the studio's top star.

But just before that inevitability, Lamont said to her fans, "If we could bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain't been for nothin'." Oscar night is when Hollywood rewards itself and its own, and we all get to watch.

Gone for some time now is the studio system that established Hollywood as the world's dream factory. Today's heroes and heroines are far more complex than they were before the realism of the mid-1960's kicked in. But on Oscar Night, when competing dreams and careers vie for the golden statuette, a place in history, and the astronomical salaries that accompany an Oscar win, we are all transported to the glamour and joyful innocence of a bygone era. Many of us vicariously step to the podium and into the light with our favorite stars and thank everyone responsible for our hard-earned recognition.

Predicting the Oscars is serious business for odds-makers and cinematic experts alike. For astrologers, it's a special challenge this year because we only know birth times for three of the 25 contenders: George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, and Matt Dillon. For the other 22, there are only birth dates. For the five nominated films, we have the release dates and a sense of how the planets define the meaning of the moment and the film that most captures its essence.

Birth times are very important, not only to determine the precise degree of the Moon and other inner planets, but to know for sure the house placements of the planets and the all-important midheaven, which points to career success, visibility, and recognition from the outer world. In the case of the tightest race here, Best Actress, between Reese Witherspoon and Felicity Huffman, and Best Supporting Actor race, the chart specifics would clear it up.

But working with what we have, let's look at Oscar Night itself:

The chart for Sunday, March 5, 2006 at 5 p.m. in Los Angeles has Virgo rising, and the Moon and Mars conjunct in Gemini at the midheaven. Gemini suggests duality and speed. Could there be a tie in one category or could the proceedings be uncharacteristically fast? Mercury is retrograde--in a square to Pluto no less: this retrograde happens three times a year. It is famous for glitches, traffic mishaps and confusion. Possible bloopers, problems with teleprompters and overly ambitious choreography could lead to a wildly entertaining klutz-fest. But this may be a perfect foil for Oscars host and Sagittarian Jon Stewart (Nov. 28, 1962). Transiting Jupiter square Neptune suggests controversy is in vogue, and that Stewart is undoubtedly the Man of the Hour, who will not disappoint.

But mercury retrograde also suggests a 'return' in some way. Previous nominees and winners include: Charlize Theron (Aug.7, 1975), Judi Dench (Dec. 9, 1934), William Hurt (March 20, 1950), Frances McDormand (June 23, 1957) and Steven Spielberg (Dec. 18, 1946). Though none of the above is favored to win, I wonder if the 'retro' will bring a win to someone who has won in the past. Spielberg's chart looks incredible--with transiting Jupiter to his natal Jupiter and Venus (favorably aspecting his Pisces midheaven), Pluto on his Sun, and a second Saturn return. If Ang Lee (Oct. 23, 1954) weren't such a shoe-in for Best Director for 'Brokeback Mountain,' I'd swear Spielberg would walk away with it--or something equally wonderful.

The mercury retro could also point to demands for a recount, or a win for someone overlooked in the past, such as Paul Giamatti (June 6, 1967), a nominee for Best Supporting Actor, or another win for William Hurt (March 20, 1950) who has won in the past. But George Clooney (May 6, 1961) and Jake Gyllenhall (Dec. 19, 1980) are formidable opponents. Gyllenhall will have some amazing planetary activity coming up in December 2007, and it's reasonable that a win on Sunday could set that sequence in motion, with Clooney winning Best Screenplay instead (with Grant Heslov) for 'Good Night and Good Luck.'

All the nominees for best actress are fire signs, with Theron and Witherspoon sharing their Saturn within 2 degrees (24 and 26 Cancer) of one another. Since Saturn brings you what you have earned, and many stars--such as Jodie Foster--have won on their Saturn return, Reese Witherspoon's Saturn return could bring her the highest honor. But there is a 'dark horse' element to the evening, andwith Jupiter on her Venus) Felicity may just giddy-up to the podium in an upset. It's worth noting that Jon Stewart and Felicity Huffman were born 11 days apart in 1962 (he on Nov. 28 and she on Dec. 9). Both are dedicated artists who thrive on controversial material.

Though Heath Ledger (April 4, 1979) has critics gushing, he's very young. For Best Actor, Leo-born Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23, 1967) as Truman Capote is the favorite. But the dark horse element here could see shy Aquarian (the actor's actor to people in the biz) David Strathairn (Jan. 26, 1949) surprise us all.

Best supporting actress is expected to go to Pisces Rachel Weisz (March 7, 1971), but Amy Adams (Aug. 20, 1975) has Saturn at the same degrees as Witherspoon and Theron. Is her Saturnian 'reward' the nomination itself?

Best picture will probably go to 'Brokeback Mountain.' The film was released on Dec. 9, 2005 (Huffman and Dench's birthday) and fits with the theme playing itself out in the heavens now: Jupiter in Scorpio's secretive nature challenged by Neptune in Aquarius's agenda of opening the collective heart. And Ang Lee's Sun, at the critical and very karmic 29 degrees of Libra -in a tight square to Mars- is compelled to succeed (with his art) at taking us through the paces required to achieve that end. He was born on a Venus station--and Venus stationed again (on Feb. 3) while much of the Oscars voting was taking place.

The world belongs to its storytellers, and films are our modern mythology. When effective, they entertain and inspire us to open our hearts to the sagas and plights of one another. In the era of red state-blue state politics, and freedom of speech and privacy on the line, there's one thing we can agree upon: art and freedom of expression is good for the soul.

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