Yes, the Oscars are about the actual awards handed out Sunday, but they are also about the spectacle on display. Here's what you should definitely be anticipating.
This year's Oscar ceremony—which is being streamed—is bound to be less controversial than last year's. For one, the host is Ellen DeGeneres, a pretty universally appealing star, as opposed to Seth MacFarlane, who delivered on the promise of offense, primarily with his gross "We Saw Your Boobs" number. Surely there are some ways the ceremony will breed haters, but it likely won't be Ellen's fault.
So what can you look for? We explore.
Ellen is the host here so, naturally, there will be mom dancing. Ellen's persona is now invariably associated with mom dancing. She even mom danced in an Oscars promo. The only way there could have been more mom dancing at this ceremony is if Emma Thompson had gotten a nomination. Hence, we fully expect an opening number in which Ellen mom-dances down the aisles of the Dolby.
Jokes about avoiding 12 Years a Slave jokes
No one can make a really good joke about 12 Years a Slave. And that's fine! It's a movie about slavery! We shouldn't joke about it! But that means that there will be jokes about not being able to make 12 Years a Slave jokes in its place.
Heroes of some sort
The theme of this year's ceremony is "heroes." This is not actually a good theme for this year's batch of movies, nor is a theme actually necessary, but here we are. That means we'll have Andrew Garfield "induct a new superhero into the fraternity of superheroes," according to producer Neil Meron in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Other heroic or vaguely heroic characters will also be honored. Kim Novak will be there because of her place as a "Hitchcock heroine."
The Wizard of Oz
The ceremony will do something to honor the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland's kids will be there. Expect someone to belt "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." (Liza, please.)
Pink will be there. She will probably, definitely fly through the air.
Idina, Idina, Idina
All of the nominees for Best Song will perform. So that means we'll get numbers from U2, Pharrell, and Karen O. But most importantly, Idina Menzel will sing "Let it Go." This is probably the most important thing that will happen at the Oscars. Meanwhile, Pharrell will likely wear a hat to delight the Internet.
Jokes about Alone Yet Not Alone
Will someone mention Alone Yet Not Alone, the Oscar nominee for Best Song that wasn't? Probably.
A very sad, probably contentious in memoriam segment
Unfortunately, this year saw the deaths of a number of great talents—Harold Ramis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Peter O'Toole, and Joan Fontaine in recent months alone. But the in memoriam segment is also always unfortunately controversial, and this year will likely prove to be no different—there is currently a deserved rallying cry for the ceremony to honor Sarah Jones, the crew member who was tragically killed during production of the Gregg Allmann biopic Midnight Rider. (There is also a campaign for attendees to wear a black ribbon in honor of Jones.) Whatever happens, there's a good chance Bette Midler could sing during this segment.
Woody Allen-related remarks
One of the big questions of the night will be whether anyone brings up Dylan Farrow's allegations of abuse against Woody Allen. It certainly won't come during any planned part of the ceremony—we can't see Ellen making a crack about something so serious—but there's always the possibility that someone who gets a chance to talk on stage will speak out against or possibly in defense of the filmmaker.