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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Academy Awards have gotten tons of press this year for things not going right, but there's reason to believe Sunday's show will be an all-around surprise.

The big picture: Ratings have been on the decline, there's no host and producers have taken grief for the show's 3+ hour runtime.

  • “We’re good! We’re good!” producer Donna Gigliotti told the AP yesterday. “Did we look like cadavers yesterday?”
  • “I think that the show is in very good shape,” Gigliotti said. “We feel good about the way it is flowing, looking (and) our presenters.”

Behind the intrigue:

  1. No host means more star cameos, including Barbra Streisand, Michael B. Jordan, Tina Fey, Charlize Theron and Michael Keaton, the AP notes. Expect cameos from Serena Williams, Rep. John Lewis and chef Jose Andres.
  2. And don't forget politics: Those celebrity cameos mean more opportunities for commentary on President Trump and the 2020 presidential election.
  3. There's a slew of historic nominations on the table, including "Black Panther" (first action movie nominated) vs. "Roma" (first Netflix film to get a nod) in the Best Picture race.
  4. And women have snagged a record-number of nominations this year, although Diane von Furstenberg lamented the lack of nods to female directors and cinematographers.

Between the lines:

  • This year's ratings should be better than expected because the pictures with the most nominations were box office gold, Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Axios' Sara Fischer.
  • "Black Panther," "A Star is Born" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" collectively pulled more than $1 billion in revenue at the box office.
  • "Many more people have seen this group of Oscar contenders than is typical in any given year."

P.S. "Will seven times be the charm for Glenn Close?" Variety asks.

  • "With this, her seventh nomination for a stunning turn as a long-suffering spouse in 'The Wife,' will Close finally get the recognition she deserves? Odds-makers say yes, but she faces stiff competition from Olivia Colman ('The Favourite') and Lady Gaga ('A Star is Born')."

Go deeper

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Bill Clinton hospitalized for non-COVID-related infection

Former President Bill Clinton. Photo: Win McNamee/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton was admitted to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center on Tuesday for a non-COVID-related infection, his spokesperson Angel Ureña said Thursday.

The latest: In an update on Friday, Ureña said Clinton's health indicators are "trending in the right direction, including his white blood count which has decreased significantly."

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
6 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.