Though it tends to pull in a fifth of the audience that tunes in to the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards are still considered a television bohemoth. Some of you have even seen some of the nominated films. And though the snubs were nastier than usual this year — sorry, Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow and “Amour”’s Jean-Louis Trintignant — at least you get to see Seth MacFarlane in the flesh, not as a cartoon (though perhaps for longer than you’d like.) We look at the forthcoming ceremony from a number of fresh angles:
Rating the hosts
The choice of “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane may seem like yet another attempt by the older-skewing Oscars to appeal to the kids. The thing is, he actually has a surprising tendency toward Old Hollywood style. At parties thrown at his house, MacFarlane is even known to sing standards backed by a big band. While the jury’s still out on MacFarlane’s performance, we thought we’d see what he has to measure up to from the past few years’ shows:
2009: Hugh Jackman
Grade: 4 Globes
The Australian charmer — who happens to be a Best Actor nominee this year, for “Les Miserables” — turned in the hosting performance to beat the year “Slumdog Millionaire” won. His opening song-and-dance number was the standout, but Broadway veteran Jackman proved he’s an all-around talent.
2010: Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin
Grade: 2 Globes
The likeable comic actors relied heavily on their own charm, but it wasn’t enough to save the show. With stale jokes and awkward delivery, their performance felt too much like an ad for their equally disappointing 2009 film, “It’s Complicated.”
2011: James Franco and Anne Hathaway
Grade: 1 Globe
As we remarked during this train wreck, “Apparently there is something James Franco can’t do.” This brazen attempt at pulling in younger viewers turned out to be a disaster, with current nominee Hathaway seemingly abandoned by Franco, who seemed to have given up on the endeavor before it began.
2012: Billy Crystal
Grade: 2 Globes
After the Franco/Hathaway disaster, the Academy went back to standby Crystal, hosting his ninth Oscars. But the funnyman’s schtick maybe went too old-fashioned, as his bits were generally panned as hokey and out of touch. Case in point: While many in that precious younger demographic might not necessarily know Crystal was dressing up as Sammy Davis Jr. in one bit, they do know what blackface looks like.
The odds are …
With odds of 4 to 1, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” is still the favorite to win the big prize of Best Picture at the Academy Awards Sunday, according to Gold Derby, which tracks the chances for Oscar nominees. That’s despite the surge of support — and wins at other awards shows — for Ben Affleck’s “Argo.” The surge started when Affleck was left out of the Best Director race, which Spielberg is also most likely to take, with 12 to 5 odds.
In the acting categories, it’s no surprise to anyone that “Lincoln” star Daniel Day-Lewis is most likely on his way to becoming the first three-time Best Actor winner in Oscar history, with a 39 percent chance of victory. The only nominee with better odds of scoring a trophy is Anne Hathaway, nominated for Best Supporting Actress for “Les Miserables.” The Best Actress race is much more interesting, with “Silver Linings Playbook” star Jennifer Lawrence (33 percent) edging out “Zero Dark Thirty”’s Jessica Chastain (30 percent).
Best Picture nominees by box office
It’s no secret in Hollywood that awards season accolades and box office success don’t always go hand in hand — though a high-profile nomination or win will generally boost a film’s gross. So how do the nine Best Picture nominees rank as far as their global ticket sales?
1. Life of Pi: $576 million
2. Les Miserables: $378.9 million
3. Django Unchained: $365.9 million
4. Lincoln: $235 million
5. Argo: $204 million
6. Silver Linings Playbook: $140 million
7. Zero Dark Thirty: $101.5 million
8. Amour: $17 million
9. Beasts of the Southern Wild: $12 million
On the flip side, we take a look at how the highest grossing films of 2012 stack up when it comes to Oscar nominations:
1. The Avengers ($1.5 billion) — 1 nomination
2. Skyfall ($1.1 billion) — 5 nominations
3. The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion) — 0 nominations
4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ($959.8 million) — 3 nominations
5. Ice Age: Continental Drift ($875.3 million) — 0 nominations
Bryan Cranston on the joys of awards season
If you see “Breaking Bad” and “Argo” star Bryan Cranston at Sunday’s Academy Awards, know that he’s not there of his own volition. “First of all, I wouldn’t go. If I’m not nominated, why am I there?” he tells Metro. “They want me to go the Oscars. I’m not nominated, but ‘Argo’ is, and it’s like, ‘Go, go, go!’ My wife’s saying, ‘You’ve got to go! We’ve got to go!’ And it’s like, ‘Really? I don’t know. Another tuxedo?’ From the outside in, you’re like, ‘Wow! Look at that!’ But when you’re there, I’m telling you ... I’ve got to be careful how I phrase this because I don’t want to sound like I’m not grateful. I’m grateful for the opportunities.”
It’s not sitting through the shows themselves that bug Cranston so much as working the red carpets. “I hate red carpet interviews, because you get as a deep into a conversation as you would in a loud bar,” he says. “It’s awful, it’s awful. The publicists, they tell me it’s important and you should do it, but any time I go, I ask, ‘Can I avoid the red carpet?’”