The greatest suspense surrounding Monday’s Academy Awards are set to be questions of not ‘if’ but ‘when’.
When will the traffic jams near Hollywood Boulevard start? When will La La Land win its first Oscar? When will the first statuette-holder unload on US President Donald Trump?
The 89th edition of Hollywood’s most important celebration comes during a time of unusual political turmoil and stark challenges for the entertainment industry.
For one, the bulk of ticket sales are going to fewer films, the blockbuster sort that almost never get awarded on Oscar night.
For the second straight year, Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Dolby Theatre will be tented.
While last year’s spring-like temperatures made the covering cosmetic, this year’s expected cool temperatures and drizzling conditions will make the roof a welcome addition.
Before they get to the red carpet, the 3300 guests will have to make their way through a three-tiered security perimeter.
The Los Angeles Police Department won’t say how many officers will be deployed, but it’s expected to be about 500, the same as last year.
“We have planned for all contingencies, from protests to even a potential terrorist attack and that is all built into the security plan, which is built on concentric rings of security,” said LAPD Commander Blake Chow said.
Two demonstrations were expected to be held on Sunday. One just north of the security zone and the other just south — at Highland Avenue and Franklin Avenue and Highland Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, respectively.
The Sunset and Highland gathering is organised by Project Islamic Hope with organiser Najee Ali saying about 100 demonstrators will come out to press Hollywood to continue to diversify who it puts in front of and behind the camera.
Ali said that multiple Oscar nominations for African-Americans this year did not correct the lack of recognition, and job opportunities, for Latinos, Asians and members of other minority groups.
“There is a black-white narrative that ignores all the others who are not represented,” Mr Ali said.
The second event, a ‘Pro-Trump Celebration’, is expected to have about two dozen participants.
The social-political dynamic also should be lively inside the Dolby. After the homogeneous 2016 nominations led to the #OscarsSoWhite protests, a half dozen black actors have received nominations this year.
The surge in black nominees did not eliminate the under-representation among many other groups — including women, Latinos and Asians. That also could become a topic on the Dolby stage.
But the surest bet is that someone — or several someones — will speak out against Trump.
The new president has been a punching bag all awards season with Meryl Streep nominated for the lead actress Oscar for Florence Foster Jenkins, setting the tone with her Golden Globes speech slamming Mr Trump for mocking a disabled New York Times reporter.
The Academy Awards will kick-off at 5.30pm (local time) on Sunday (Monday AEDT).
Check out The New Daily on Monday for full coverage.