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On eve of the Oscar nominations, sure things in short supply

For all the sand kicked in their face, Rami Malek (center) and the "Bohemian Rhapsody" team may end up Oscar nominees on Tuesday.

For all the sand kicked in their face, Rami Malek (center) and the "Bohemian Rhapsody" team may end up Oscar nominees on Tuesday. | Twentieth Century Fox

One of these years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is going to pull its gold-plated head out of the past and join the 21st century.

One of these years, they’re going to take a look at how the NFL Draft, the Heisman Trophy announcement, the NBA Draft and the NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Selection Sunday have been fashioned into slick, well-produced, suspenseful, drama-filled television.

One of these years, the Academy is going to realize how drab and anti-climactic and underwhelming it for them is to rattle off the nominees in rapid-fire fashion at an ungodly hour.

This is not that year.

Per usual, the nominees will be announced live at 5:20 a.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, launching the usual round of stories about actors who were awakened by their agents with a phone call delivering the magical news.

Come on, Hollywood. If the sports world has figured out how to turn this sort of thing into must-see TV, you can do it too!

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Antiquated presentation aside, this looks to one of the most unpredictable and competitive years in recent Oscar history.

The one thing we can count on is being surprised.

Some early awards-season favorites are going to be on the outside looking in, while some late-charging longshot contenders might hear their names announced on Tuesday, when such a notion would have been almost laughable just a few months ago.

Folks, there’s a real chance “Bohemian Rhapsody” could snag a nomination for best picture.

Bohemian. Rhapsody. Which is basically an extended episode of “The Monkees” with better music and some sugar-coated drama.

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The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences consists of 17 branches (actors, casting directors, editors, producers, etc.,) with a total of approximately 9,200 members.

For years the Academy skewed older and white and male. (In 2012 — recent history! — 94 percent of voters were white, 76 percent were men and the average age was 63.) All 40 actors nominated in 2015 or 2016 were white, which led to the #OscarsSoWhite movement.

To its credit, the Academy listened and vowed to double the number of women and/or minority members in the Academy by 2020. Of the 928 individuals invited to join AMPAS in 2018, 49 percent were female and 38 percent were people of color.

These new members are 10, 20, 30 years younger than the old guard. That might well swing the pendulum in favor of a less stodgy overall group of movies and performances getting recognized.

Let’s take a look at the glamour categories and see if we can sniff out a few surprises.

Best Picture

In accordance with a set of rules more perplexing and convoluted than the plot of “Glass,” the Academy can nominate anywhere from five to 10 films.I think we’ll get nine nominees this year.

You can count on “Roma,” “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther,” “The Favourite” and “BlacKkKlansman” garnering nominations, with “Green Book,” “Vice,” “If Beale Street Could Talk” and, yes, “Bohemian Rhapsody” most likely to round out the field.

Viola Davis plays Veronica, one of the women who have lost their husbands, in "Widows."

Viola Davis plays Veronica, one of the women who have lost their husbands, in “Widows.” | TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Thinking with equal parts heart and head, I also can envision an upset scenario in which Steve McQueen’s brilliant “Widows” and Damien Chazelle’s stunning “First Man” are nominated, with “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” falling just short.

Best Actress

Julia Roberts gave the best performance of her career in “Ben Is Back” and Toni Collette burned right through the screen in “Hereditary” and Viola Davis was magnificent in hitting notes ranging from grieving to sexy to scared senseless to badass in “Widows” and Nicole Kidman delivered unforgettably raw and real work in “Destroyer,” and yet I’m not sure if any of them will make the cut in a wonderfully crowded field of best actress candidates.

Glenn Close (“The Wife”), Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”) and Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) are in for sure, with Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins”) and Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”) close behind.

In keeping with the theme of a surprise or two or three this year, I’m gonna go with:

Glenn Close, Lady Gaga, Olivia Colman, Viola Davis, Melissa McCarthy.

Best Actor

I’ll never understand how Robert Redford has exactly one best actor nomination (for “The Sting”) in his legendary career, given his work in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Candidate,” “Downhill Racer,” “Jeremiah Johnson,” “Three Days of the Condor,” “All the President’s Men” and in perhaps his finest role, “All Is Lost.”

Perhaps the Academy will see fit to give him one of those honorary statues sooner rather than later.

Said to be his last film role, Robert Redford's charmer in "The Old Man and the Gun" offers a chance for the Academy to make a sentimental nomination

Said to be his last film role, Robert Redford’s charmer in “The Old Man and the Gun” offers a chance for the Academy to make a sentimental nomination. | Fox Searchlight

Redford has said “The Old Man and the Gun” will be his final performance, and there might be some sentiment (especially among veteran Academy members) to salute him with one of those “this is for your career as much as for this one role” nominations, but even though the movie and the performance are entertaining, it’s lightweight stuff, not strong enough to crack the top five.

My picks: Christian Bale (“Vice”), Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”) and Ethan Hawke (“First Reformed”).

Supporting Actress

Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), Amy Adams (“Vice”), Claire Foy (“First Man”), Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”) and (upset special) Elizabeth Debicki (“Widows”).

Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”), Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”), Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”), Sam Elliott (“A Star Is Born”) and (surprise!) Michael B. Jordan (“Black Panther”).

Odds of seeing hundreds of post-nomination stories headlined, “Oscar Nominations: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises”? Now THAT you can take to the bank.