Good Morning Oscar, February 17: Ladies First

Helena Bonham Carter charms, Natalie Portman trains and Celine serenades the dear departed

Anne Thompson and Sophia Savage team up to deliver the new theory making the rounds: Helena Bonham Carter, who not long ago seemed to be running third to Melissa Leo and Hailee Steinfeld in the Supporting Actress race, now has a real chance to win. The evidence: she doesn't take herself or the race too seriously (which could be Leo's downfall), she has an admirable career that began before Steinfeld was born (meaning she's due), and the press loved her in the Oscar Nominees Luncheon interview room. Not that the press is voting, mind you. Lots of video clips supply additional evidence. (Thompson on Hollywood)

What do you do if you have a star who's considered the Oscar frontrunner, but she has to get off the promotional grind because she's pregnant? And what if this happens at the same time that her chief rival is stepping up her own efforts and becoming more visible? If you're Fox Searchlight, pushing Natalie Portman's "Black Swan" performance and watching Annette Bening rev up her "The Kids Are All Right" campaign, you let a video do the talking as it emphasizes one of your big selling points: degree of difficulty. (YouTube)

At Mandi Bierly's request, Ocar show producer Bruce Cohen and writer Bruce Vilanch don't exactly give away any details about the show and its opening number, but they tease a little. It'll involve singing, and it'll have live and filmed elements, and hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway will be joined by "a very exciting and special guest star or two." Nothing against last year's opening-number star Neil Patrick Harris, but can it please be somebody whose career is in the movies? They also talk about some scenic transitions that I'm sure are giving the stage crew nightmares right about now. (Inside Movies)

More Oscar show news: according to Marc Malkin, Celine Dion will appear on the show to sing "Smile" during the annual "In Memoriam" montage. She's performed on the show five times before, including an appearance belting out the "Titanic" theme song on the most-watched Oscars ever in 1998. But this year she'll be in a tricky position for any performer – because when the audience's focus is supposed to be on honoring the people they’re showing on the screen behind the singer, it can be nearly impossible to stage the number in a way that's satisfying to both the performer and those being saluted. At least, I've never seen it done effectively. (E!Online)

Sasha Stone has decided that Banksy and "Exit Through the Gift Shop" are the best things about the Oscars this year, even though she's completely convinced that the movie is "a glorious sham" – a "prankumentary" rather than a real documentary. But she loves the spectacle anyway. "At a moment when the air has sucked out of the room entirely," she writes (by which I think she means that she knows "The King's Speech" is going to win and her beloved "The Social Network" isn't), "here comes Banksy to give us a laugh." (Awards Daily)