The tension mounted at the Oscars, but needlessly. An experiment I tried this year shows that there is a failsafe method of predicting the results.

The conventional approach to anticipating the Oscars is to study the Golden Globes awards, which predate them by several weeks. Sometimes these are the same as the Oscars but often they are not. The Golden Globes jury, which consists of film critics, many of them superannuated, is totally different from the Academy Awards voters who are practising film-makers and performers.

But these same film-makers and performers have their own guilds, which also have awards ceremonies that predate the Oscars. Yet, unlike the Globes, they receive scant publicity and no prime-time television in the UK. It would be odd if guilds, consisting largely of Academicians, voted differently in the space of a few weeks. And indeed they did not.

The directors' guild gave their award to Anthony Minghella. Three weeks later, the same bunch of people gave the director's Oscar to Anthony Minghella. The producers' guild made their winner Saul Zaentz, producer of The English Patient. Guess who received the best film award at the Oscars? The actors' guild gave their award to Frances McDormand. She went on to win the best actress Oscar. The writers' guild made their winner Billy Bob Thornton for his Sling Blade screenplay. The same Billy Bob expressed himself so amazed when he received the Oscar for the same category that he had not even prepared a speech. That was acting of a high order.

With luck, no representatives of William Hill or Ladbrokes are reading this column. And next spring could be a lucrative one.

Still in Oscarland, who was this Martin Innerfield that Gabriel Yared, composer for The English Patient, seemed to thank in his acceptance speech? The Hollywood audience clapped obligingly, but I doubt if they had really heard of Mr Innerfield. Mr Yared was in fact paying a curiously abbreviated tribute to The Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the London-based chamber orchestra who played the soundtrack for the movie. "He did seem to leave out the `St' and the `s' on the end of Fields," a bemused official of the orchestra told me. Sadly, the Academy, whose other movie score was some years ago for the Oscar-winning Amadeus, took a fee for The English Patient rather than a royalties deal. The same bemused orchestra official told me: "If we had done the same royalties deal for The English Patient that we did for Amadeus, we'd all be in Barbados." Instead, they had to make do with reflected glory and a stiff drink at their headquarters in sunny Wapping.

Dance aficionados attending the latest offering from DV8 at the Cambridge Arts Theatre may have noticed a chap in a flamboyant Benny Hill-style wig slinking around the foyer, staring hard at them and eavesdropping on their conversations. In fact they must have noticed him and probably came close to reporting him to the police. The "stalker" was Lloyd Newson, DV8's director and choreographer. Mr Newson refuses to be photographed as he claims that if people get to know his face he won't be able to observe them unremarked for his choreographic researches. And he has now taken to wearing a wig so that even his best friends won't recognise him. Mr Newson has a degree in psychology. Allied to contemporary dance, that can cause erratic behaviour.

Hollywood actress Kathleen Turner, you may have read this week, will be appearing in the main theatre at Chichester this summer. If that seems unduly starry, the casting for the Minerva, Chichester's studio theatre, is even more so. The great ballerina Natalia Makarova is acting in Misalliance by GB Shaw; Leslie Caron returns to the stage in Nocturne for Lovers by Bruno Villien. With Julie Christie, Twiggy and Dorothy Tutin also there, it's beginning to sound like a green room to die for. And with all of them renting houses in Chichester for the summer, they'll be selling black- market tickets for tea and scones in the pedestrian precinct.