Soggy Oscars will not dampen British contenders' spirits

Oscar statues covered with plastic stand at the entrance to the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles Photo: Reuters

LA has not seen anything like it in many years, and while the torrential rain has been welcomed by many in California, coping with its third year of drought, the team behind the film world's biggest night are not so happy.

The famous 500 feet strip of red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard is under plastic sheets, and having walked them every day since arriving here they are getting soggier with more puddles.

A huge plastic marquee has been erected over the walkway for fear that every star arriving today for the Oscars will face a fashion disaster, and teams of staff are sweeping away the water round the clock. The bad news is the extraordinary rain storms we have seen here over the past few days are set to continue today.

Workers mop up the famous red carpet ahead of the big night. Credit: ITV News/ Nina Nannar

It is fair to say though that the huge number of British contenders in town today will not let the weather dampen their spirits or hopes. The Brits have a huge number of nominations this year, 26 in all with 23 of those from just three films.

Chief amongst those of course is Gravity, the space thriller which has showcased British special effects expertise to a dazzled world. None of the other 8 films in the Best film Oscars category can match its box office takings - already approaching half a billion pounds worldwide. It would be a real shock here if the film does not pick up a clutch of awards from its 10 nominations, not least for its Visual Effects team.

Alfonso Cuaron (left) and David Heyman (right) with the Best British Film Award for Gravity in the BAFTAs Credit: PA

Alfonso Cuaron, its Mexican Director also faces a great chance of winning the Best Director Oscar, having won in that category in all the major awards events leading up to today's Oscars.

British director Steve McQueen is the only other director on the list who could spoil Cuaron's day. And if he does win for 12 Years a Slave, he will become the first black film director in history to win an Oscar. If he wins for best film, that too will be an Oscars first for a Black filmmaker.

Steve McQueen in the running for the Best Director Oscar. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

He was underplaying the fact when I met him here in LA as he hosted a reception for British film talent. It would be great if it inspires other directors, he said but he was more pleased to have learned that on the back of his film, the book by former slave Solomon Northup that inspired his film, is now being taught in every school in America. My film has changed the way slavery is taught he said, that already makes me a winner.

But it's not all about the big film directors and big budgets here. Of all the people I have met in LA this year, the one most excited to be here has got to be 80 year old Philomena Lee, the woman whose search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption inspired an Oscar nominated film.

Philomena Lee and Dame Judi Dench. Credit: Ian West/PA Wire

Dame Judy Dench who played her in Philomena, has been nominated for best actress, one of four awards the film is up for, but the real Philomena is going to the the awards ceremony too. I am black and blue from pinching myself she told me!

And she's not the only one. The Manchester duo Mark Gill and Baldwin Li had previously only worked behind the scenes in TV on programmes like Dr Who and the Jeremy Kyle Show. But they persuaded actors Martin Freeman and Tom Hollander to star in their short film The Voorman Problem, about a prisoner who believes himself to be God, and now they are tipped to win an Oscar in the Live Action Short Film category.

Sometimes your dreams come true they told me. We'll found out for sure in the next few hours.