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The Oscars: Everything you need to know (and some things you don’t)

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01:30 - Source: CNN
Best picture nominees for 2017 Academy Awards

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This will answer even your dumbest questions about the Oscars

Here are random facts to make you sound smart, plus tips for your Oscars pool

CNN —  

So you’ve been invited to watch the Academy Awards with friends and you haven’t seen a movie in the theater since the last “Star Wars.” You know, the one from almost 15 months ago.

You don’t know “Moonlight” from “Spotlight,” or “La La Land” from La La Anthony.

How do you avoid sounding clueless?

We can help! Here’s a guide – sort of an Oscars for Dummies – that answers even your stupidest questions. Like these.

When does it start?

Red carpet coverage starts Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, with the ceremony following at 8:30 p.m. ET.

What channel is it on?

ABC. But if you really geek out about the red carpet, E! will begin streaming live coverage on its mobile app at 1:30 p.m. ET. Yes, that’s 10:30 in the morning in Hollywood, when almost nobody is awake. Maybe you’ll get to watch someone vacuum and shampoo the carpet.

Who’s hosting?

Jimmy Kimmel. He’s that late-night guy on – coincidence! – ABC. It’s his first time in the gig, although he hosted the Emmys last year.

What, James Franco and Anne Hathaway weren’t available?

Ha ha.

Were James Franco and Anne Hathaway the worst Oscar hosts ever?

Yes, Hathaway and  Franco.
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Yes, Hathaway and Franco.

Many critics seem to think so.

But the pair, who hosted in 2011, have competition from Seth MacFarlane, who did a song-and-dance number four years ago called “We Saw Your Boobs.”

And from David Letterman, who once told that weird “Oprah … Uma” joke.

I haven’t been paying attention. What are the big Oscar movies this year?

The front-runner is “La La Land,” a musical about two young lovers pursuing their showbiz dreams in Los Angeles when they’re not fighting traffic. Hollywood LOVES movies about Hollywood – ahem, “Crash,” “The Artist,” “Argo” – so it got a record-tying 14 nominations.

Right behind it are “Moonlight,” a coming-of-age story about a gay black man in Miami, and “Manchester by the Sea,” which sounds like a snooty BBC drama but is actually about a depressive Boston handyman grappling with unspeakable family tragedy. It’s a laugh riot.

Critics also love “Arrival,” a sci-fi movie about linguists trying to communicate with space aliens who may actually not be trying to kill us.

But the sentimental favorite may be “Hidden Figures,” a true story about the unsung African-American women whose math and engineering smarts helped power the US space program in the 1960s. With $146 million and counting, it’s the biggest box-office hit among the best picture contenders.

Don’t you mean “Hidden Fences?”

No.

I’m confused.

You’re thinking of “Fences.” It’s a Denzel Washington movie based on August Wilson’s play about a cranky ex-baseball player and his family in 1950s Pittsburgh. Don’t feel bad – Michael Keaton mashed up the movies, too.

The Academy also honored two more crowd-pleasing movies based on real-life stories. “Hacksaw Ridge” is about a pacifist soldier in World War II, which is sort of like a vegan at a barbecue. And “Lion” is a tearjerker about a guy who uses the Internet to track down the family he was separated from as a child in India. It’s basically one long ad for Google Earth.

And finally, there’s “Hell or High Water,” which–

Wait, how many best picture nominees are there?

Nine. Under its current rules the Academy can nominate anywhere from five to 10 movies.

The Academy – aren’t they a bunch of Hollywood geezers who ignore black people?

Now, now. Things may be getting better. The Academy says it has taken steps to diversify its membership. And the #OscarsSoWhite controversy from recent years is absent this time around because seven of the 20 nominated actors are people of color.