LOS ANGELES (AP) — Some firsts and other rarities are possible at Sunday night's Academy Awards. But if the Oscars could be just a little less predictable, the show might really be one for the record books.
Ben Affleck's "Argo" looks like it will uniquely claim best picture without a directing nomination, while "Lincoln" filmmaker Steven Spielberg and star Daniel Day-Lewis are favored to join exclusive lists of three-time Oscar winners.
If some longshots came in, the night could produce two more three-time acting winners — Sally Field from "Lincoln" and Robert De Niro for "Silver Linings Playbook."
We could also have the oldest or youngest acting winner ever — 86-year-old "Amour" star Emmanuelle Riva and 9-year-old Quvenzhane (Kwa-VEHN-ja-nay) Wallis of "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
The ABC television broadcast itself could set some fresh highs or lows. Oscar overseers keep talking about pacing and trimming fat from a ceremony that's dragged on interminably, approaching four and a half hours one year. Can they keep it tight and lively enough that viewers don't think about gouging out their eyes around the three-hour mark?
And what about host Seth MacFarlane? He's a classy, low-key guy in person, with an old-fashioned Sinatra-style singing voice that he'll no doubt put to use in a show that's shaping up as a music-heavy, Broadway-style celebration of cinema.
Yet MacFarlane's career is built on pushing the envelope — or crumpling it and tossing it in the trash — as he's tested the boundaries of good taste with such brazen shows as his animated series "Family Guy" and last summer's obscenity-laden blockbuster "Ted," which earned him a songwriting Oscar nomination.
The result could be a fun night for younger, hipper TV audiences that Oscar organizers are courting but a crude awakening for traditionalists who like their Academy Awards to lean more toward the sacred than the profane. Or it could be that MacFarlane makes the most of the thankless task of shepherding the Oscars, striking a nice balance between respecting Hollywood and poking fun at it.
"I think a little bit of that injected into the mix will go a long way, but I do also have to be mindful, in this instance, of not losing the audience that's there every year," MacFarlane said. "It's a different audience from my own, but I do have to be respectful that they will be watching."
So maybe it's an Oscar show that's shaken, but not stirred up too much. That might suit one of the evening's special honorees, British super-spy James Bond, whose adventures will be the subject of a tribute to mark the 50th anniversary of his first big-screen outing in "Dr. No." Adele will perform her Oscar-nominated title tune to last year's Bond tale "Skyfall," while the show features Shirley Bassey, who sang the Bond theme songs for "Goldfinger," ''Diamonds Are Forever" and "Moonraker."
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