The Oscar nominations reflect a bias towards films that deal with human relationships.

While many of the nominations for the Oscar Awards 2005, announced in Los Angeles on Tue sday are as expected, there are some surprises. More interesting, one notices the emergence of new trends in the choice of the nominations for Best Picture Oscar. Those are ''Brokeback Mountain,' ''Crash,' ''Capote,' ''Munich,' and ''Good Morning and Goo d Luck.'Most of these films were made as ''indies' (independent productions) outside the 'studio network,' and on low-to-medium budgets. They also had limited theatre releases in the U.S.

Bold and brazen

The brave, bold and brazen cowboy movie described by a critic as ''Gay Gone With The Wind' attracted wide attention raising controversy and disturbing conservative America and was soon screened in over 1,500 cinemas raking up a good though modest box office pickings.A study of these Best Picture nominated movies shows they were chosen for their thematic content, human values, issues and problems of importance and social significance in the U.S., and to some extent even the rest of the world. And for the first time, the tabooed theme of homosexuality, interpreted as another kind of love between human beings and not a perversion as it had been thought of, was brought into the limelight as mainstream Hollywood cinema in both ''Brokeback Mountain' and also ''Capote.' Even the much discussed movie, ''Transamerica,' where Felicity Hoffman is nominated for Best Actress is again about the sex-change of a man into woman and facing a new world of problems.

Political issues

Political issues of much importance which attracted the attention of the nation almost half century ago is the thematic content of ''Good Night and Good Luck.' This film is based on the icon of American broadcast journalism, Edward R. Murrow, who brought many issues to people's attention. Racial relations also came in for thematic presentation in the much-discussed movie ''Crash' which was nominated. Much to the sur prise of many it won the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Best Drama Ensemble Award sidelining ''Brokeback Mountain.' This movie was again a low budget production, which has attracted critical attention. One of the surprising omissions in the Best Picture list is ''Walk The Line,' the movie based on the music icon Johnny Cash. Following the success of ''Ray' earlier, there was much expectation but it was sidelined. However, the lead role players Reese Whitherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix received actor-actress nom inations. During the past few years, the Best Picture Oscar winning movies were mostly high budget movies, with 'five star' casting, glitzy glamour-plus production values, technical wizardry, Computer Graphics Imagery (CGI), and the whole works. ''Titani c' and ''The Aviator' are examples of this kind. In the 2005 list, no such movie has been chosen because, according to some critics, Hollywood seems to be going back to the old days when human values and such themes formed the criteria for choosing the B est Picture. Another interesting fact is that most of the movies have not fared well, or are not money-spinners. Critics in America have warmly welcomed the change in the Hollywood attitudes, which augurs for more purposeful movies being made in the futu re. The five nominees for Best Director has been up to expectation with only Spielberg (''Munich') being the surprise choice. Ang Lee is tipped strongly to get the Oscar, the other nominees being George Clooney (''Good Night and Good luck'), Paul Haggis (''Crash'), and Bennett Miller (''Capote'). Hotly tipped for Best Actor is Philip Seymour Hoffman (''Capote') while Felicity Hoffman is the favourite for Best Actress (''Transamerica'). ''Brokeback Mountain' has received as many as eight nominations with ''Crash' getting five, and ''Munich' and ''Good Night and Good Luck' getting six each. According to the betting ring the hot favourites are, Best Picture -''Brokeback Mountain,' Best Director - Ang Lee, Best Actor - Philip Seymour Hoffman and Best Actr ess - Felicity Hoffman. The game is on.