Workers are putting the final touches on Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, where the motion picture industry will award the Oscars on Sunday evening. The industry's most glamorous and powerful people will be there for the presentation.
It is a time when actors and directors take a break from filming on movie sets, executives get a break from their rounds of deal-making, and all the glamour of Hollywood is on parade on the red carpet.
George Clooney is nominated for three Oscars, as supporting actor in the thriller Syriana and as director and co-writer of Good Night, and Good Luck, a film about the legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow.
This is Clooney's first time at the Oscars, but as he told reporters recently, he does not expect to win. He notes there are five nominees in each category, and those odds make the Oscars a gamble.
"If you were going to [Las] Vegas, and you got percent odds, would you take that? I don't know. The truth is, realistically, it doesn't feel like I'm going to win. I like the idea of showing up. It's exciting to be nominated. It really is exciting to be nominated. And right now is sort of the golden time."
This year's competition has films that touch on controversy, including several that deal with gay themes and characters. The foreign-film entry Paradise Now, which follows two suicide bombers, has been criticized by some who say it glorifies terrorism.
Gil Cates, who produces the Oscar show, says the entries are always topical, and sometimes controversial.
"And I think that this year is a very appropriate year for the academy members to have selected these political films, cultural films because it's very much on everyone's minds."
Politics always creeps into the presentation, and the Oscar show producer says that is unavoidable when winners go on stage.
"You know, when someone wins an Oscar and they get their 40 seconds up there, I hope they talk about their craft and their art and I personally hope they don't talk politics, but I can do nothing about that. It's their 40 seconds basically."
Critics and viewers worry less about controversy than about a telecast that is sometimes slow and uneventful. The producer says this year's host, comedian Jon Stewart, should maintain a brisk pace and introduce some topical humor for the biggest event of the year in Hollywood.
Michael Sullivan, VOA news, Los Angeles.