Best picture is an open race.
Not since 2006, when “Crash” won the top prize over “Brokeback Mountain,” have Oscar prognosticators been so divided over which movie is likely to win. “Zero Dark Thirty” has faded amid controversy. “Lincoln,” with a leading 12 nominations, looked dominant. Then awards started flowing “Argo's” way, including the American Film Institute's movie of the year, best film at the BAFTAs (British Oscars), the Screen Actors Guild ensemble award and the Golden Globe for best drama.
Picture and director winners could split.
These two prizes nearly always go to the same movie. But if “Argo” wins best picture, director Ben Affleck can't win best director — he wasn't nominated. But he has won the Directors Guild prize and the Golden Globe for best director. Steven Spielberg (“Lincoln”) holds a slight edge with oddsmakers over Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”). The last best-picture winner whose director wasn't nominated: “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1990.
Slideshow: Oscar nominees and Fischbach's picks
Seth MacFarlane is an edgy choice for Oscar show host.
His television series, “Family Guy,” is known for crude, irreverent humor, which would not be a first for the Academy Awards. Past host Whoopi Goldberg went down that road. But MacFarlane says he's steering clear of controversy, using Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal as his role models.
Seven best-picture nominees are box-office hits.
In fact, six already have made more than $100 million domestically, a first. And “Zero Dark Thirty” is at $89 million. Only “Beasts of the Southern Wild” ($12 million) and “Amour” ($4 million) have missed the big bucks. Yes, it's easier for hits to get a nomination now that more movies are nominated. But not so long ago, dark movies that people stayed away from dominated this category.
Oldest and youngest best-actress nominees will go head to head.
They are Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”), who turns 86 today, and Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), who is 9. Riva is thought to have a chance of winning in a tight race with Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence.
One movie has nominees in all four acting categories.
That hasn't happened since “Reds” in 1982 (Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Maureen Stapleton). This time it's “Silver Linings Playbook,” whose nominees are Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence and Jacki Weaver. Among the four, Lawrence and De Niro have the best chance of winning tonight.
All supporting-actor nominees are past Oscar winners.
That's a first for any acting category. The nominees: Alan Arkin (“Argo,” won for “Little Miss Sunshine”), Robert De Niro (“Silver Linings Playbook,” won for “The Godfather, Part II” and “Raging Bull”), Philip Seymour Hoffman (“The Master,” won for “Capote”), Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln,” won for “The Fugitive”) and Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained,” won for “Inglourious Basterds”). The race is a tossup.
Video: Fischbach talks Oscar favorites
A profane teddy bear will be making an appearance.
That would be Ted, the living teddy bear who made life so miserable for Mark Wahlberg in “Ted,” an R-rated top-10 box office hit. Who supplied the voice of Ted in the movie? That would be Oscars host Seth MacFarlane. Like MacFarlane, Ted is unlikely to get too risque in prime time.
Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey and Adele will perform.
Streisand will sing on the Oscar show for the first time in 36 years. She won best song in 1977 after singing “Evergreen.” We don't know what she'll sing this time. Bassey, known for singing 007 theme songs like “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Goldfinger,” will likely be part of a salute to James Bond's 50th anniversary in film. Adele will sing best-song nominee “Skyfall” on the show, which is another 007 theme song. It could become the first Bond song to win.
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