Not much has changed in the six weeks since the Academy Award nominations were announced, but with several categories that are two- or three-way races between some particularly impressive nominees, the evening still promises to be an interesting affair for those who get a kick out of this delightfully absurd tradition of pageantry and sycophancy.

I’ve followed the Oscars intently since I was a kid, and I learned very early on that real, meaningful acknowledgment of superior artistic ability is better reflected in critical accolades and festival-circuit prizes. But knowing that the Oscars are terrible (and at times terribly random) never stopped me from following them every year and becoming well-read on Academy history and lore. There’s just something about this annual ritual that’s fascinating. It’s always interesting to see the Hollywood community’s view of itself and its own accomplishments, and the Oscars provide a perfect showcase.

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