ABC(LOS ANGELES) — Hollywood’s biggest night is almost here.
For those of us not sitting in the audience waiting for our name to be called, there’s still plenty to get excited about.
Here are five things to keep an eye on during Sunday’s broadcast of the 87th annual Academy Awards:
Neil Patrick Harris
As previous hosts have learned, helming the Oscar telecast is one of the toughest gigs in entertainment. But if anyone can inject new life into the Oscars, it’s Neil Patrick Harris. The How I Met Your Mother alum is making his debut running the show, but he’s had good practice leading up to it: well-lauded hosting gigs for the Emmys and Tonys and kicking off the 82nd Academy Awards with the opening number, “No One Wants to Do It Alone.”
“He’s someone who’s so multitalented,” said Jordan Zakarin, a writer for Yahoo! Movies. “He can do comedy, sing and dance. It will be refreshing to see what he can do. People want to root for him.”
Harris has a team helping him, including Oscar-winning Frozen duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who’ve written a song, called “Moving Pictures.”
But besides promising that there will be musical numbers, jokes about movies and a bit of magic — Harris is also a magician — the Hedwig and the Angry Inch star wasn’t giving up much.
“They really want things that can only happen on the show, you have to watch the show to see,” Harris said of producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan in a sneak peek from the Academy. “We’re actually going to be using people in interesting ways.”
Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson and Anna Kendrick
Some of those people include Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson and Anna Kendrick. All three are confirmed for the show, but producers aren’t giving away much about what they’ll be doing.
“They are keeping it mysterious at a time when so many things are scripted,” Zakarin said. “Should be a surprising night.”
Common and John Legend
Speaking of musical numbers, Common and John Legend’s performance of the Oscar-nominated song “Glory” from the best picture nominee Selma, is sure to be one of the highlights of the night.
“I think it will be one of the more powerful moments of the entire show, while reminding Academy viewers that they snubbed the film,” Zakarin said, referring to Selma director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo being overlooked for an Oscar nom.
Last year, John Travolta gave folks something to talk about long after the night was over, when he introduced singer Idina Menzel as Adele Dazeem.
Despite and, perhaps, because of his epic flub, producers have invited Travolta back. Whatever he presents, it’s sure to be one of the most anticipated moments of the evening, as millions watch to see if the Hollywood A-lister will become tongue-tied once again.
“Let’s hope he practices the name better,” Zakarin said.
Going into Sunday night, so many categories already seem to have a clear winner. Julianne Moore, Patricia Arquette and J.K. Simmons seem to be comfortable favorites for the best actress, best supporting actress and best supporting actor categories respectively.
So it’s kind of nice not to know who will win the top prize of the night: best picture.
Boyhood and Birdman have been running neck-and-neck in the final stretch of the awards season, though the latter has picked up both the producers and directors guild awards, considered two of the precursors to winning the Academy Award. Zakarin predicts that the two films will split the top prizes with best director going to Boyhood director Richard Linklater and best picture going to Birdman.
Zakarin also didn’t rule out a possible upset in the best actor category. Even though Eddie Redmayne from the Theory of Everything has the momentum going in, Birdman star Michael Keaton could pull off an upset.
“It’s the new guys versus the Hollywood veteran having a comeback,” Zakarin said. “Sometimes Hollywood likes to reward its own.”
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