I'll admit it. I love watching the Academy Awards.
I love the nervousness, the excitement, the live aspect of the show that means anything can happen, and a good host who knows how to work a crowd.
In my opinion, there's none better than Billy Crystal.
He's playful, quick-witted, well-respected and a seasoned veteran hosting his ninth Academy Awards (btw, the record is 18, held by Bob Hope).
If the elaborate pre-Oscar promotions are any indication, Crystal's traditional film-laden opening montage will be extraordinary. If it doesn't include some black and white sequences, I'll be surprised.
So, is this a suggestion that "The Artist" will sweep the Oscars?
In fact, "Hugo" might actually win more Oscars than "The Artist" -- but not the ones that really count.
Let's take a look at the categories in the approximate order they'll be handed out.
Normally, the Academy kicks off the show with one of the "Big Six" -- namely, Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, only in reverse order. Otherwise, no one would stick around for the big finish, right?
Octavia Spencer from "The Help" has been cleaning up in the Best Supporting Actress category in the other awards shows, and she'll probably win here, but the performance of Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs" took an ordinary movie and made it special -- not to take away from Octavia's great effort here.
Now is the time to hit the buffet table at your Oscar bash du jour. The next few categories are for the cinephiles who absolutely must win the Oscar pool for the evening's bragging rights.
Original Screenplay is a tossup between "Midnight in Paris" and 'The Artist." If it's "The Artist," it's going to be a long night for the other hopefuls.
Adapted Screenplay goes to "The Descendants."
Animated Feature Film goes to "Rango."
Animated Short Film is between Disney's "La Luna" and "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore." I think Mr. Lessmore takes it.
Art Direction could be the first of five Oscars for "Hugo," but again if it's "The Artist"? ... well you know the drill.
Costume Design should be the second Oscar for "Hugo."
Makeup normally goes to the film that makes somebody famous look really old. No one did that better this year than "The Iron Lady."
Cinematography is the best thing about "Hugo." It wins its third Oscar of the evening.
Live Action Short goes to the Irish film "The Shore" (a film I'd like to see full-length).
Then, another of the major categories ...
Christopher Plummer of "Beginners" has an entire shelf of shiny, new statues from this award season. The Oscar for Best Supporting Actor should look good among them. Although, my personal favorite didn't even get nominated. Albert Brooks from "Drive" was truly exceptional this year.
Now it's time to refill your buffet plate. Skip the creamy spinach dip. You'll want to pass on those extra pounds. Spring is just around the corner, you know. Back to the show.
Documentary Feature looks to go to "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory," unless a recent victim's family backlash sends voters toward "Pina." Although, how "Buck" and "The Last Lions" were not nominated is beyond me.
Documentary Short seems headed for "God Is the Bigger Elvis."
Visual Effects is anyone's guess, but my money's on the monkey -- "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
Sound Editing gives "Hugo" its fourth Oscar.
Sound Mixing (and no, I don't know the difference) also lands in "Hugo's" court, giving it five, but that should be about it.
Film Editing goes to "The Artist," and not a minute too soon. We're already two-thirds through this bad-boy show and this is perhaps its first win? And yet, the tide should start to turn ...
Original Score looks to be going to "The Artist" as well, although Kim Novak's still steamed about them borrowing the love theme from her beloved "Vertigo."
Original Song goes to "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets."
Foreign Language Film belongs to the Iranian drama "A Separation." Who knows, if it wins, maybe they'll be so happy, they'll cool it with the nuke talk already.
We're coming down the home stretch with the last four of the "Big Six" awards of the evening ...
Directing should go to French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist," but if Martin Scorsese hadn't won recently ("The Departed") then this could have been his year. Heck, it still might be.
Best Actress appears to be going to Viola Davis from "The Help," but I wouldn't be too shocked if Meryl Streep took home her first Oscar in 30 years (17 nominations, two previous wins) for her extraordinary portrayal in "The Iron Lady."
Best Actor is too close to call, but I think it will be George Clooney for "The Descendants," over Jean Dujardin in "The Artist." I'm going with George, but regardless, expect a gracious smile from Clooney's longtime friend and fellow prankster, Brad Pitt, who will go wanting yet again.
And finally, Best Motion Picture goes to "The Artist," my favorite film of last year, and a truly creative, entertaining work of art that perhaps will finally get you to go to see what all the fuss is about.
Steve Salles can be reached at email@example.com.