Last-minute preparations are underway ahead of the 81st Oscars ceremony. After months of movie critics awards and audience awards, it is now time for Hollywood to get down to the business of handing out its Academy Awards.Slumdog Millionaire, a rags to riches romance set in India, is widely seen as the hot favourite to scoop the Oscar for best picture. But there is tough competition from the likes of “Milk”, starring Sean Penn, based on the life of the gay activist Harvey Milk. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, starring Brad Pitt as a man who ages backwards, is also one of the favourites. Leading pundits say the best actor race appears to be a two-way battle between Penn and Mickey Rourke as a faded athlete in the Wrestler. They tip Kate Winslet as best actress for her role as a Nazi-era prison guard, ahead of Meryl Streep in Doubt, about a nun who suspects sex abuse in a Catholic school.