Tuesday morning, baby!! 8:30 a.m. EST!!!

Oscar catches up with world culture
LOS ANGELES ó This year’s Oscar race is considered as wide open as any in recent memory, but analysts say one facet of Tuesday’s Academy Awards nominations appears certain: an ethnically diverse slate of contenders.
As studios expand their worldview beyond the West ó and see the potential for ticket sales overseas ó minority actors and racially diverse themes are increasingly finding their way to the big screen.
And that should be reflected in Tuesday’s nominations, which are announced at 5:30 a.m. PT/8:30 a.m. ET.
“It’s unheard of for so many cultures to get represented in Hollywood, but it’s finally happening,” says Sasha Stone of “It used to be we were shocked if one black person got nominated for an Oscar. Now we’re seeing almost every culture getting represented.”
Indeed, black, Hispanic and Asian actors are considered serious contenders for Oscar nominations, if not outright wins:
ïForest Whitaker is the front-runner for the best-actor Oscar for portraying Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.
ïPenelope Cruz is expected to be a best-actress nominee for Volver.
ïJennifer Hudson is the odds-on favorite to be nominated and win best supporting actress for Dreamgirls.
Other minority stars, including Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness), Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls) and Babel’s Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi, are expected to vie for acting awards, while Alejandro Gonz·lez IÒ·rritu is a contender for best director for Babel.
The multicultural shift not only reflects a canny commercial strategy. Some say Hollywood is growing up.
“We’ve just matured in general,” says David Poland of MovieCityNews .com. “Hollywood is still making niche films for black or Hispanic audiences. But more stars are crossing over into commercial films, and audiences ó and the academy ó are following.”
IÒ·rritu says the industry has become “more willing to accept globalization and that we’re all connected. People are interested in stories beyond just their world.”
Alfonso CuarÛn, the Mexican-born director who made Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and this year’s Children of Men, says the business is simply reflecting its own changing demographics.
“Hollywood has always been made up of immigrants,” he says. “We had a German revolution. A French film revolution. It’s just now, the immigrants aren’t all from Europe.”
And studios know that putting, say, a Mexican star like Barraza in a film makes it more marketable in Latin markets.
Some cultures, particularly Asian, are still underrepresented in Hollywood, Stone says. “But compared to just a few years ago, it’s a different world.”