Early favorites in the Oscars race

NEW YORK (WABC) -- This week marked the start of Oscar voting, and members of the Motion Picture Academy have until next Monday to choose the lucky few who will be nominated.

Meanwhile, some of the most famous people in the world were in New York City this week, collecting awards and looking to score the big one.

Lady Gaga was called the best actress by the National Board of Review for "A Star Is Born," and for the singer who grew up here, the award had a special resonance.

"I'm happy as a clam tonight," she said on the red carpet. "We're celebrating in New York. I get to be with my friends. We're all celebrating art. It's beautiful."

However fun and glamorous it may seem, to see and be seen is a lot like hard work -- especially if you're 15 years old like Elsie Fisher, the star of "Eighth Grade."

"Everyone looks so graceful when they're doing speeches and giving awards," she said, "And no one tells you, it's like 'oh you are going to be exhausted.'"

At Cipriani in Midtown for the National Board of Review gala and at "Tao Downtown" on 16th Street for awards from New York film critics, the stars are staying visible just as Oscar voters are deciding who to nominate.

Among those voters is Bradley Cooper, an Oscar favorite after directing and starring in "A Star Is Born." So how does he fill out his ballot?

"By the ones that I love the most," he said. "Very hard thing, though, the idea of ranking art."

He wouldn't say if he will vote for himself, but Cooper is riding a wave of popularity. Blockbusters (like his movie and "Black Panther") are in the Oscar race for the first time in years.

"There's no conflict between that is a big, crowd pleasing, event kind of movie and also having something that the critics will enjoy and will also so be recognized for its qualities," said Alan Horn, the head of the Disney studio that released "Black Panther."

"Black Panther" is also part of another trend towards more diversity on the big screen. This is almost sure to be reflected when Oscar nominations are revealed a week from Tuesday.

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