Billy Crystal


Oscar Watch

Billy Crystal's back. The Artist's out front

Anything else you need to know about tonight's 84th Annual Academy Awards?

Lots. From the looks of things, you're in for a crazy, or just plain maddening night:

1. The Snub of All Snubs?! So, for all intent and purpose, The Artist is on track to become the box office's least-popular Best Picture winner of at least the last 30 years. (We're not counting The Hurt Locker because it was out of theaters when awards season arrived.) Paying audiences are saying loud and clear they're not into the silent movie. They are, however, into Uggie—and, really, who isn't? (Besides Tom Selleck…) The Academy, apparently. Word is, unless the little fellow crashes the joint, the furry face of the film will neither be on the red carpet nor at the show. Perhaps we're all being set up for a pleasant surprise, but if not, it's a head-scratcher of a slight.

2. The Sacha Baron Cohen Cliffhanger: Will he or won't he attend in support of Hugo after originally being asked to not attend in support of—and dressed as—The Dictator? (The latest: He will, and he will be decked out as The Dictator.) In any case, Cohen deserves a special award of merit for bringing the suspense back. 

3. The Well-Timed Appearance by Chris Rock: With The Help sparking debate over its version of the Civil Rights struggle and the Academy being outed as less diverse than the Iowa caucus, this would've been the perfect year for Rock to return as host. At least he'll be on hand to present, and (hopefully) bring the pain. Other presenters to watch for: Michael Douglas, who's returning after his cancer fight; and, Angelina Jolie, who's Angelina Jolie. 

4. The Other Snub of All Snubs?! So, once again this year, there reportedly will be no time in the telecast for performances of the Original Song nominees, even though this time out there are just two contending tunes. There will be time, however, for a "wholly unique and exclusive performance" by Cirque du Soleil, the acclaimed circus company that is not nominated for anything and never has been. (If Walter were man and not a Muppet, he wouldn't stand for this kind of treatment.)  

5. The "In Memoriam" Watch: Are the late Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Falk, Cliff Robertson, Jackie Cooper and Jane Russell locks for the Oscars' annual tribute to its fallen favorites? What about Whitney Houston and Ben Gazzara, both of whom passed away only weeks before the ceremony? What about Jeff Conaway, who didn't rate with the Emmys, but did endear himself to Grease fans? Or Bubba Smith, who endeared himself to Police Academy fans? Or Ryan Dunn from the Jackass movies? Or "You Light Up My Life" composer Joseph Brooks, a one-time Oscar winner, who died while awaiting trial on multiple sexual-assault charges? And would the cruelest snub of all be an omission for Yvette Vickers, the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman star who died alone in her Beverly Hills home and whose remains weren't found for another year?

6. The Meryl Streep Watch: The Iron Lady star is on the edge of history, in a bad way. If, as expected, Streep loses Best Actress to The Help's Viola Davis, she will have suffered her 15th defeat and topped her own record for relative futility among nominated actors. 

7. The Octavia Spencer Bustline Blowout: With Spencer vowing to gift herself with a post-Oscars breast lift, the ceremony may be one of your last chances to view the Best Supporting Actress favorite's chest region before surgeons do their best.

8. The Red Carpet Nun: Expect respectful fashion reviews for Elvis Presley costar Dolores Hart turned the Abbey of Regina Laudis' own Mother Dolores, the subject of the nominated documentary short "God Is Bigger Than Elvis."     

9. The Auditorium That Shall Not Be Named: Last we saw with our own eyes, the Kodak Theatre was still called the Kodak Theatre. But owing to Kodak's fight to get out of its sponsorship deal with the Oscars' longtime home, the show will be referred to as "being broadcast from the Hollywood & Highland Center," which is the name of the shopping mall where the Kodak Theatre, er, that thing is located.

10. The Ultimate Snub of All Snubs?! Should The Artist win Best Picture, white men, sorry, Oscar voters will have disappointed just about everyone else. Most fans, per the polls, are pulling for The Help.

(Originally published at 9 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2012.)

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