Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas feels sorry for Academy Award nominees Reese Witherspoon and Philip Seymour Hoffman because they are the front-runners to pick up this year's (06) top acting gongs.

The veteran star, who has won two Academy Awards, says the pressure as the favourite in the Best Actor and Actress categories can be crushing.

He explains, "It's the worst position to be in, to be favoured for the Oscar. For people like Reese Witherspoon and Philip Seymour Hoffman - to become the favourite - all there can be is disappointment because everyone is expecting them to win."

Douglas advises the nominees to enjoy the time before the ceremony on 5 March (06).

He says, "Right now is the fun time. You have the nominees lunch and you kind of share the experience before it gets into that pressure cooker."