After an interesting and diverse year of cinema, "Hollywood's biggest night" has finally arrived! Beginning with the red-carpet special hosted in part by Destiny's Child diva Kelly Rowland, and with a special appearance by "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts, ABC will present the 85th Academy Awards, hosted by the irreverent Seth MeFarlane, airing live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24.
As the excitement and speculation build, Donald Bogle, a foremost educator, film historian and author whose books include "Brown Sugar: Over One Hundred Years of America's Black Female Superstars," "Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography" and "Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: The Story of Black Hollywood," considered the Oscar nominees in the major categories, beginning with Denzel Washington's Best Actor nomination for his role in "Flight."
"I don't think he has great chances, but I wouldn't rule him out," Bogle said. "I think Daniel Day Lewis (‘Lincoln’) has the best chance right now. That's the way it looks, but Denzel is terrific in that movie. When you go into it, you're expecting one thing, because it deals with an accident. He's an airplane pilot and he deals with an accident while he was piloting the plane, but that's not really what it's about. It's really about a man dealing with himself, and coming to terms, really, with his alcoholism. Denzel is great in it. He really is, and if there is an upset, Denzel could get it, and he would be deserving."
One of the year's most intriguing nominations is nine year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, who received a nod in the Best Actress category for her portrayal of the strong-willed survivor "Hushpuppy" in "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Wallis was only five years old when she landed the role.
"I think that the great thing about her is that she got the nomination," said Bogle. "It would have been very easy for them, in a way, to have overlooked her. It is a little girl, and the film is doing okay now, but when she got that nomination, it wasn't like it had been seen by a whole lot of people. But members of the Academy were so impressed with her – for her to get the nomination is a great thing. And for the picture to be up for Best Picture is another thing, because the director is new, and he got that nomination."
Then there's the controversial "Django Unchained." Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx, the film about a freed slave who is determined to find and rescue his wife is up for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.
"Actually, I liked it," said Bogle. "I thought it was clever and imaginative, and as far as movies about the Old South are concerned, this just goes against all of that. This is not 'Gone with the Wind’, where the people (slaves) are basically happy. This is really dealing with the brutalities of what happened during the slave period. But the thing I have to say about 'Django,' I think it has a chance of getting Best Original Screenplay. The competition there, though, would be 'Argo' (written by Chris Terrio).
"But I have to say this, that in seeing people that were overlooked by the Academy, I think Sam Jackson, he was great (in ‘Django Unchained’)! Oh, he was so evil and he was so cunning! He was terrific. He was classic Uncle Tom, but yet it was a different view of Tom, in that he was so crafty and so manipulative, but he still loved that white master!"
Presenters at the 85th Academy Awards include Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Jane Fonda, Jennifer Garner, Halle Berry, Kristen Stewart. Jennifer Aniston, Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd, Salma Hayek Pinault, Melissa McCarthy, Queen Latifah, Liam Neeson, John Travolta, Ben Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Mark Wahlberg, Ted, Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Jean Dujardin, Christopher Plummer, Octavia Spencer, Meryl Streep, Richard Gere Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, along with "special guests" Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Daniel Radcliffe, Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron.
Singers Jennifer Hudson, Dame Shirley Bassey, Norah Jones and Barbra Streisand are slated to perform, as is Adele, whose theme from "Skyfall," the latest James Bond thriller, is nominated for Best Original Song.