LOS ANGELES — Some firsts and other rarities are possible at Sunday night's Academy Awards. But if the Oscars could be just a little less predictable, the show might really be one for the record books.
Ben Affleck's "Argo" looks like it will uniquely claim best picture without a directing nomination, while "Lincoln" filmmaker Steven Spielberg and star Daniel Day-Lewis are favored to join exclusive lists of three-time Oscar winners.
If some longshots came in, the night could produce two more three-time acting winners — Sally Field from "Lincoln" and Robert De Niro for "Silver Linings Playbook."
And we could also have the oldest or youngest acting winner ever — 86-year-old "Amour" star Emmanuelle Riva and 9-year-old Quvenzhane (Kwa-VEHN-ja-nay) Wallis of "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
The broadcast itself could set some fresh highs or lows. Oscar overseers keep talking about pacing and trimming fat from a ceremony that's dragged on interminably, approaching four and a half hours one year. Can they keep it tight and lively enough that viewers don't think about gouging out their eyes around the three-hour mark?
And what about host Seth MacFarlane? He's a classy, low-key guy in person, with an old-fashioned Sinatra-style singing voice that he'll no doubt put to use in a show that's shaping up as a music-heavy, Broadway-style celebration of cinema.
Yet MacFarlane's career is built on pushing the envelope — or crumpling it and tossing it in the trash — as he's tested the boundaries of good taste with such brazen shows as his animated series "Family Guy" and last summer's F-bomb-laden blockbuster "Ted," which earned him a songwriting Oscar nomination.