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Will a High Number of Late-Voting Academy Members Hurt Locker?

Pretty much everybody who's not Harvey Weinstein is still predicting that The Hurt Locker will win Best Picture at this Sunday's Oscars, owing to an impressive run through this season's precursor awards unaffected by a backlash that took until the end of last week to really gain any traction. But Oscar ballots weren't due until Tuesday, so any late-voting Academy members would presumably have been aware of last Friday's A1 story in the L.A. Times, in which military personnel called Locker's depiction of combat unrealistic, or Nicolas Chartier's tireless e-mail crusade to thwart the film's chances in the final stretch. So how much does it mean that there was reportedly a record number of late-voting Academy members this year?

Reports the L.A. Times' Pete Hammond:

Locker's taken a small beating these past few days, though not really enough of one to make us reconsider our predictions. But it might not be a bad idea to schedule an appointment with Harvey's fortune teller now, since she'll be a lot busier on Monday if Inglourious Basterds wins.

At Tuesday's Envelope Hollywood Museum party celebrating this year's Oscar-nominated costumes, I spoke to an Academy member who had just hand-delivered his ballot to PriceWaterhouseCoopers before polls officially closed at 5 p.m. that day. Just like a regular presidential election he showed me the voting sticker he wore as he was escorted into the hallowed halls of the Wizards of Oscar accounting. He said a Price Waterhouse assistant told him this was the biggest final day haul of ballots in their history. I have since checked with one plugged-in source who says the estimate is in the low 600s which, if correct, would be a hugely significant amount of last-minute Oscar voters.

Locker's taken a small beating these past few days, though not really enough of one to make us reconsider our predictions. But it might not be a bad idea to schedule an appointment with Harvey's fortune teller now, since she'll be a lot busier on Monday if Inglourious Basterds wins.

Notes on the town: Oscars presenters and Oscars hopefuls [Notes on a Season/LAT]

Photo: Getty Images