LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After a blustery few days of torrential downpours, Hollywood appears ready for smooth sailing at the Academy Awards.
The 86th annual Oscars ceremony kicks off Sunday night from the Dolby Theatre. Unlike the stormy hosting of Seth MacFarlane last year, this year's Oscar show with host Ellen DeGeneres has a deliberately safe vibe of cheery song-and-dance.
The nimble and amiable DeGeneres is expected to return the broadcast to more traditional territory. Many of the night's biggest categories, too, seem to hold little chance for surprise.
The well-established favorites include Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o and Jared Leto.
The night's biggest question mark won't come until the very end. "12 Years a Slave," ''Gravity" and "American Hustle" are vying for best picture in the night's closest contest.