The Oscars have almost arrived!
Broadcasting live at 5:30 p.m. PST (8:30 p.m. EST) Sunday on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, the 86th Academy Awards will recognize achievements in the film industry from 2013.
Unlike most years when Hollywood insiders have a clear idea of who will take home an Academy Award, this year the race for best picture is quite close. Cosmic odyssey “Gravity,” historic biopic “12 Years a Slave” and con-artist comedy “American Hustle” have emerged as the three favorites. Suhs-pense.
If you still have time to turn in your Oscar pool ballot, let L.A. Times awards columnist Glenn Whipp be your guide: See his predictions for the winners in all 24 categories. And check our Buzzmeter, featuring a bevy of critics and their winning picks, for varying views.
Remember, the Oscar-nominated shorts are even trickier to forecast. L.A. Times film critic Betsy Sharkey presents her favorites for the documentary, live-action and animated categories here. Mad props if you come up with winning selections.
Even more props if you guessed the nominations correctly. Though do you think some of your favorite films or actors were snubbed from the Oscar nominations? Like Ryan Coogler’s real-life-based story “Fruitvale Station,” Scarlett Johansson’s voice work in Spike Jonze’s love tale “Her,” or the Coen brothers’ musical biopic “Inside Llewyn Davis?” Consult our snubs and surprises gallery here. And check out our gallery of top nominees here, with a complete list here.
Switching it up to music, this year the Oscars boast a pop-heavy lineup, including Pharrell Williams, U2, Idina Menzel and Karen O. Each of the four acts will perform a number nominated for original song. Pharrell Williams will whip up a version of “Happy” from the animated adventure “Despicable Me 2;” U2 will offer the track “Ordinary Love” from the historic tale “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom;” Idina Menzel will sing “Let It Go,” from Disney’s juggernaut “Frozen;” and Karen O. will perform “The Moon Song” from the love story “Her.” See photos of all the performers, and a posse of the presenters here.
Speaking of Oscar original songs, want in on some gossip to fuel the Academy Awards conversation? (Um, who doesn’t?) Well, in addition to the four original song nominees above, the fifth contender -- “Alone Yet Not Alone,” co-written by Bruce Broughton, a longtime academy member -- was removed from the category altogether. The academy said Broughton improperly campaigned by emailing 70 members of the academy insisting they listen to the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” before they voted on the nominees. It marks a first in Oscar history for a revocation based on improper campaigning.
It’s possible Ellen DeGeneres, this year’s host, will poke fun at that, but it will no doubt be more genteel than what last year’s Oscar host, Seth MacFarlane, might have done with it. His opening number? “We Saw Your Boobs” -- that was just a bit awkward. See our gallery of other cringe-worthy Oscar moments here.
By the way, do you remember the last time DeGeneres hosted the Oscars? It was 2007. OK, that was an easy question. But do you know who is the only person to win for playing someone of the opposite sex? Take our Oscar quiz to see if you’ve got the answer -- and whether you can score a perfect 10.
And if you really think you have all the answers to all things Academy Awards-related, take a few minutes to complete the Oscar edition of our play-at-home ballot. Cast your votes, and see how you fare.
Don’t forget to check back before, during and after the show to see up-to-the-moment coverage of the Academy Awards, including red carpet arrivals, show highlights and best and worst moments, with analysis of what it all means.
In between commercial breaks, join L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan and columnist Robin Abcarian on latimes.com.
We’ll see you then!
Follow Christy Khoshaba on Twitter @ChristyKhoshaba