Hence the Oscars’ rigid format: banter, award, applause, speech, musical number, commercial break, repeat.
“In a show which is very orderly and guards against those moments, how do you get spontaneity and surprise to come through?” wonders Gil Cates, who has produced 14 Oscar shows. “They happen on their own. Most good TV is accidental.”
To psych ourselves up for the epic show, we’ve fantasized about moments that might set viewers aTwitter.
Last year the documentary categories provided two of the show’s cringiest moments: When documentary short producer Elinor Burkett interrupted her estranged collaborator’s speech, and when “The Cove” subject-activist Ric O’Barry hoisted a sign that said “Text DOLPHIN to 44144,” cuing the orchestra and a cutaway shot.
The category is ripe for disruption this year, too, with street artist Banksy nominated for “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” The anonymous and prodigious prankster has already punked billboards around Los Angeles with his rogue symbols, so he’s around town. Will he storm the stage in disguise? Will he unfurl a giant banner featuring prints of his trademark monkeys? This is the “big cliffhanger” of the night, says GoldDerby.com editor and Oscarologist Tom O’Neil.
“Gift Shop” producer Jaimie D’Cruz has promised Oscar honchos that he alone would accept the award, according to the Wrap, but wouldn’t it be great if Banksy somehow inserted a placard of his art into the actual envelope?
MOST BELOVED DEAD PERSON
Who gets the primo spot — and the biggest applause — at the end of the “In Memoriam” montage? Sometimes it’s a respected journeyman: Last year, it was Karl Malden, a past president of the academy. Sometimes it’s a superstar: Paul Newman got it the year before (being a humanitarian didn’t hurt). Sometimes it’s a wunderkind gone too soon: Heath Ledger in 2008.
Here are five legacies to put your money on:
l Gloria Stuart
. What better way to end the montage than by running a “Titanic” clip of Stuart tossing the Heart of the Ocean overboard? Never let go, Oscar. Odds: 10 to 1.
l Leslie Nielsen
. “I just wanna tell you both good luck. We’re all counting on you.” (“Airplane!”) Odds: 8 to 1.
l Arthur Penn
. His “Bonnie and Clyde” propelled American cinema into its second golden age. Odds: 6 to 1.