10. PAYING RESPECTS This year’s reminder-of-one’s-own-mortality segments should be less depressing than usual, with lighthearted tributes planned for the late, great, Oscar host extraordinaire Bob Hope, and 81-year-old honorary Oscar winner Blake Edwards (director of ”Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” ”10,” and the ”Pink Panther” films). Meanwhile, the ”In Memoriam” montage of stars who died this year lets you play the ”I didn’t realize he/she wasn’t dead already” game.
9. LENI RIEFENSTAHL Forget politically outspoken contenders like Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. The most controversial name of the night will be Leni Riefenstahl, the pioneering documentarian and propagandist for Hitler, who’ll be recognized during the aforementioned death montage. Listen for the deafening lack of applause when her clip appears.
8. ALISON KRAUSS The talented but relatively obscure bluegrass artist will have as much screen time as any A-list movie star at this year’s Oscars, singing duets of two nominated songs from the epic ”Cold Mountain.” Krauss — who was also on the blockbuster ”O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack — will perform the ethereal ”You Will Be My Ain True Love” with Sting and the piano ballad ”Scarlet Tide” with Elvis Costello. And millions will wonder: O sister, who art thou?
7. A PRECIOUS MOMENT Will Peter Jackson — or any of the night’s other winners — be tempted to do his best Gollum impersonation when presented with a gold statuette? Our bet: ”My precious” is this year’s ”I’m the king of the world.” Yeeess, it iiiis.
6. ANNIE LENNOX Wouldn’t it be cool if former Eurythmics gender-bender Lennox broke out the old orange crewcut and men’s suit for the Oscars? Sweet dreams are made of that. In any case, expect a passionate rendition of the Enya-esque ballad ”Into the West” from ”The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”
5. JACK BLACK AND WILL FERRELL This pair may still be years away from Oscar-bait performances. Nevertheless, their debut appearances (as presenters) at the Academy Awards bode well for some spontaneity — five-second delay be damned.
4. THE GOVERNATOR Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to attend the Oscars, making a temporary return to the world of entertainment. Will Billy Crystal poke fun at the most powerful man in the room? Will anyone use their time at the podium to denounce Schwarzenegger’s opposition to gay marriage? We can’t wait for the suspense to be terminated.
3. EUGENE LEVY AND CATHERINE O’HARA The Christopher Guest regulars will reprise their roles from the mockumentary ”A Mighty Wind” as the estranged folk duo Mitch & Mickey, performing their fictional ’60s hit ”A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow.” In the film, the former lovers are reluctant to reprise their trademark smooch at a key point in the song, but let’s root for some lip-locking on Oscar night.
2. BILLY CRYSTAL ”Hairspray” writer Marc Shaiman is back on board to craft original song-and-dance numbers for everybody’s favorite Oscar host. We’d ask for a musical version of ”The Passion of the Christ,” but it’s been done already, hasn’t it? So we’ll settle for ”Seabiscuit Sings!”
1. TOM CRUISE AND NICOLE KIDMAN If nothing else, it’ll be fun to see how the famous exes avoid each other for the entire evening.