Why you should care

Because they may not accidentally name the wrong winner again, but there’s more to tune in for.

This is an OZY Special Briefing, an extension of the Presidential Daily Brief. The Special Briefing tells you what you need to know about an important issue, individual or story that is making news. Each one serves up an interesting selection of facts, opinions, images and videos in order to catch you up and vault you ahead.

WHAT TO KNOW

Lights. Camera. Academy Awards. This Sunday marks the 90th annual Academy Awards, and the second in a row hosted by comedian Jimmy Kimmel. And while the ABC-aired show is expected to have fewer viewers than last year, prices for ad spots continue to rise — this year by almost 30 percent, averaging around $2.4 million for a 30-second spot.

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Late-night talk show host, producer and comedian Jimmy Kimmel will host the 89th Oscars for the second time.

Source Jeff Lipsky/ABC via Getty

The Favorites. Best director is expected to go to Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water, and Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand are likely to win the acting categories. Best picture, meanwhile, is more open as it’s the only category decided by preferential ballot: If one film is the first choice of more than 50 percent of the Academy, it wins, but otherwise the film with the fewest votes is eliminated and the ballots recalculated until there’s a winner. The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri are the favorites, but nobody is discounting an upset from Lady Bird or Get Out after last year’s surprise triumph for Moonlight.

And If You Didn’t Watch the Movies … Come for the politics. Since Marlon Brando allowed Sacheen Littlefeather to speak on his behalf at the 1973 Oscars about the mistreatment of Native Americans, the awards have featured plenty of political posturing. The Golden Globes featured Oprah, the Grammys featured Janelle Monae, and host Kimmel — who hasn’t shied away from discussing health care and gun control on his show — says politics will be “part of the show.”

HOW TO THINK ABOUT IT

And Your Nominees Aren’t. Absent from this year’s ceremony: 2017 best actor Casey Affleck, who withdrew from the traditional role of bestowing the best actress award, saying he didn’t want to be a “distraction” after multiple women alleged he sexually harassed them. While the Academy booted Harvey Weinstein in October, it’s allowed other men accused of sexual misconduct, including Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski and Kevin Spacey, to remain in the fold. Also in attendance is Ryan Seacrest, who is hosting the red carpet show despite recent sexual harassment allegations, which he denies.

Rock the Vote. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which administers the Oscars, closed voting on Feb. 27. There are more than 7,200 voting members — more than double than in 1979 — and the class of 2017, the largest class of inductees to date, was 39 percent women and 30 percent people of color, a marked increase in diversity.

Box Office Bump. Movie proceeds in North America fell by 2.3 percent to $11.1 billion in 2017, a three-year low. But the Oscars help boost ticket sales. According to a 2014 study from UCLA, a movie with five nominations can expect to make $68 million more than one without any. Some movies don’t need it though: Wonder Woman, the third-highest-grossing film of 2017, scored zero nominations.

Sipping the Haterade. Some turned on Golden Globe winner Three Billboards before voting ended, with Washington Post film critic Alyssa Rosenberg and others arguing against the “soft touch” treatment of Sam Rockwell’s racist-cop character. Meanwhile, The Shape of Water was hit with a lawsuit before voting ended, alleging that the film rips off the 1969 play Let Me Hear You Whisper.

WHAT TO READ

Why the Oscars Have Lost Their Mojo — and Their Relevance, by Jeffrey Fleishman in the Los Angeles Times

“The Oscars live in a tricky no man’s land between the real and the imagined. They aspire to be topical but are careful — some would say timid — in what they choose as a cause and how they offend.”

17 Great Movies Completely Rejected by the Oscars in 2018, by Zack Sharf in IndieWire

The fact Robin Campillo’s AIDS activist drama BPM (Beats Per Minute) did not make the short list for best foreign language film will remain one of the biggest snubs of the 90th Academy Awards.

WHAT TO WATCH

Oscars Mistake: Moonlight Wins Best Picture after La La Land Mistakenly Announced

“I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.”

Every Best Picture Winner. Ever. (1927–2017 Oscars)

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

WHAT TO SAY AT THE WATERCOOLER

Best Set Design: Expect 45 million crystals for the decor of the stage. Broadway set designer Derek McLane says of his creation: “The theme is all about light and reflectivity.” Meanwhile, a few miles from the theater, conservative activist Sabo has rented three billboards — Get it? Because of Three Billboards — calling out sexual harassers in the entertainment industry with the phrase “We all knew. And still no arrests.”

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