But there's plenty we dug up about the 2010 nominees (aside from what they did before they were famous) that's intriguing, funny or just plain weird. So although hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin promise to keep the ceremony humming, should there be a lull in the proceedings, feel free to amuse yourself by pondering some of the random trivia we've unearthed here. You may think you know all the big stories of this year's Oscars: 'Avatar' vs. 'Hurt Locker,' Sandra Bullock vs. Meryl Streep, potential wins for veterans (Jeff Bridges) and first-timers (Mo'nique) alike.
But there's plenty we dug up about the 2010 nominees (aside from what they did before they were famous) that's intriguing, funny or just plain weird. So although hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin promise to keep the ceremony humming, should there be a lull in the proceedings, feel free to amuse yourself by pondering some of the random trivia we've unearthed here.
Meryl Streep: From 'Julia' to 'Julie & Julia'
Meryl Streep earned her 16th nomination as chef extraordinaire Julia Child in 'Julie & Julia,' but it's not her first trip down Julia Lane. The actress made her film debut 33 years ago in the 1977 film 'Julia,' which was also about an unusual kinship between two women. Streep didn't play the title role in that film, but she was memorable as the grating socialite Anne Marie. The actress who did play Julia in 'Julia' was Vanessa Redgrave -- and she received a Supporting Actress Oscar for the role.
Gyllenhaals Are Latest in Long Line of Brother-Sister Nominees
With her surprise nomination for 'Crazy Heart,' Maggie Gyllenhaal adds another honor to the family mantel -- her brother Jake was a 2006 Supporting Actor nominee for 'Brokeback Mountain.' The Gyllenhaals are not the only brother-sister act in Academy history. Peter Fonda has pocketed one nomination each in acting and writing, while his sister Jane has two Best Actress triumphs. Lionel and Ethel Barrymore (Drew's great-uncle and great-aunt) were both Oscar winners. Francis Ford Coppola earned the Best Director award for 'The Godfather, Part II' in 1974, while Coppola's sister Talia Shire was honored with a Best Supporting nomination for her appearance in that same film as Connie Corleone.
Christopher Plummer Tries to Win One for the Octogenarians
Though Oscar is itself an octogenarian (this year will mark the 82nd ceremony) very few 80-somethings have taken home acting honors: George Burns ('The Sunshine Boys') was 80 when he won; Jessica Tandy ('Driving Miss Daisy') clocked in at 82. If Christopher Plummer -- born in 1929 -- upsets Christoph Waltz ('Inglourious Basterds' ) for Supporting Actor, the 'Last Station' star -- and first-time nominee -- will be only the third 80-plus winner in Oscars history. Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn ('On Golden Pond'), Ruth Gordon ('Rosemary's Baby') and Sir John Giegud ('Arthur') were all in their 70s when they received their late-in-life statuettes (for Hepburn, the 1981 Best Actress award was the last of her record four wins).
Penelope Cruz Goes for a Rare Two-Peat
Penelope Cruz of 'Nine' has a chance to become just the second actor to win back-to-back Best Supporting Oscars (she was honored last year for Woody Allen's 'Vicky Christina Barcelona'). When Cruz was a toddler, Jason Robards won consecutive Supporting Actor awards for playing real-life wordsmiths: In the Watergate drama 'All the President's Men' (1976), Robards played Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee; and in 'Julia' (1977), he was the crime writer Dashiell Hammett.
The Curious Case of Two Ryan Binghams
Co-nominated for Best Song, for the 'Crazy Heart' theme song 'The Weary Kind,' is singer-composer Ryan Bingham, who also appears in the film with his band the Dead Horses. In the Best Actor category, George Clooney is nominated for 'Up in the Air,' playing a character named ... Ryan Bingham.
'80s Stars Come Full ('Short') Circuit
Fisher Stevens, best known for playing nerdy Ben in the '80s movie 'Short Circuit,' has recently turned his attention to producing and is up for an Oscar for 'The Cove' in the Best Documentary category. Meanwhile, 'Precious' also has an unexpected connection to an '80s movie actor. According to the Hollywood Reporter, director Lee Daniels was introduced to the work of Sapphire (whose novel 'Push' is the basis for 'Precious') by literary agent Charlotte Sheedy -- the mom of Ally Sheedy, Stevens's co-star in 'Short Circuit.'
In Morgan Freeman's World, the President Trumps God
Hollywood likes to cast Morgan Freeman in take-charge roles. But turns as a Brigadier General ('Outbreak'), the President of the United States ('Deep Impact'), and God ('Bruce Almighty' and 'Evan Almighty') failed to collect enough votes from the Academy. Freeman finally got his fifth nomination this year playing South African President Nelson Mandela in 'Invictus.'
Who Needs Two Names to Get an Oscar? Not Cher ... or Mo'Nique?
Mo'Nique is the overwhelming favorite for Best Supporting Actress for her turn in 'Precious,' and a win would make her only the second actor sporting a single name to receive an Oscar. Cher was the first one-name wonder among thespians, for her performance in 'Moonstruck' (1987). In other Oscar categories, costume designer Jean Louis (last name: Berthault) picked up a statue for his work on 'Solid Gold Cadillac'; Prince and Eminem have won for the music for 'Purple Rain' and '8 Mile' (respectively). Topol received his one and only nomination in 1971 for playing Tevye in 'Fiddler on the Roof.' Incidentally, Madonna is still looking for that elusive first nomination in either acting or songwriting; Sting has been nominated three times in the Best Song category, and Bono just once.