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Does Oscar crown await Affleck's 'Argo?'

  • FILE - This publicity image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows John Goodman, left, Alan Arkin, center, and actor-director Ben Affleck in a scene from "Argo." The film has dominated the awards picture with wins at the Golden Globes and ceremonies held by the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild of America. "Argo" now is poised to do what only four movies have managed before at the Oscars: win best picture without a nomination for its director. (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Claire Folger, File)

LOS ANGELES — Nominations morning last month revealed major surprises for the Academy Awards, promising one of the most wide-open campaigns ever for Hollywood's highest honors.

Six weeks later, things have shaken out into the same old predictable Oscars.

Like almost every awards season, earlier honors have established clear favorites for the top prizes at Sunday's Oscars, where Ben Affleck's CIA thriller "Argo" is expected to take home the best-picture trophy.

"Argo" has dominated the awards picture with wins at the Golden Globes and ceremonies held by the Directors Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild of America. The film now is poised to do what only four movies have managed before at the Oscars: win best picture without a nomination for its director.

With the top trophy and other key prizes expected to go to obvious front-runners, the Oscars will live or die on the show itself, which has a hipper flair with "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane as host and a cool lineup of current and vintage stars. Among performers, presenters and other special guests are Barbra Streisand, Norah Jones, "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe, key players from "The Avengers," and Mark Wahlberg and his cuddly stuffed-bear sidekick from "Ted," voiced by its writer-director, MacFarlane.


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