By Caryn James | James on Screens February 26, 2012 at 8:45AM
If you’re a fan of Billy Crystal and nostalgia (they sort of go together, don’t they?) tonight’s Academy Awards show has your name on it. But if, like many more of us, the throwback to Oscar hosts past and the presumed dominance of The Artist sounds like a snooze, here are some ways to approach the Academy Awards. (To be fair, the photo above is from this year's Oscar promo.)
1. Watch The Red Carpet Shows
As the slog through awards season has made the Oscars more predictable, the Red Carpet arrivals have become more of an event. So gawk at the stars, hear them grapple with some of the most banal questions on Earth, check out their dates, and don’t hesitate to hit the mute button when the hosts are just talking to each other. It’s harmless movie voyeurism (this year on E! and TV Guide Channel, and live streaming at MTV.com as well as on the official ABC pre-game show).
2. Watch The First Ten Minutes
Even in his heyday as host, it was Crystal’s opening routine that was truly funny – and somehow hypnotized the audience into thinking the rest of the show was lively too.
3. Then DVR A Couple of Hours So You Can Skip
Unless you have a relative who’s up for the Best Sound Mixing, the DVR is your friend. You can always go back if you’ve accidentally zapped through Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt presenting.
4. Play The Seat-Filler Drinking Game
There’s no way to improve on the wit of the game that the cast of Bridesmaids invented for the SAG awards: drink when you hear the word Scorsese. But here’s an alternative: drink when you spot a seat-filler. No fair looking in the nether regions of the theater where obscure nominees dwell. But if you see a mystery face where Meryl Streep or George Clooney used to be – there you go. Bathroom breaks, cigarette breaks, and just diva-esque privilege (not to mention heading backstage to present) should keep the traffic flowing.
5. Look For Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
Come back for real at about 10:45 ET, when things will get interesting. According to an unofficial schedule, that’s when the Best Director award will be announced, followed by In Memoriam, Best Actor, Actress and Picture. My predictions: Michel Hazanavicius will win director for The Artist, George Clooney wins Actor for The Descendants (this is not just wishful thinking; I can’t imagine The Artist will completely dominate the major categories), Viola Davis wins Actress for The Help, and The Artist wins Best Picture. (If you missed it, watch Uggie, the Artistic dog, on Jimmy Kimmel Live making his predictions.)
6. Stay Up For Jimmy Kimmel’s Post-Oscar Special