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The best surprises, of course, are the unplanned emotional peaks. One could come courtesy of Annette Bening, 52, nominated three times before without winning, finally earning her trophy for “The Kids Are All Right.” Or it could be provided by 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld emerging as the underdog winner for her film debut in “True Grit.”

Then there’s presenter Sandra Bullock, returning to the stage where she triumphantly claimed her best-actress trophy last year for “The Blind Side” and then, within days, saw cheating allegations surface against her now-ex-husband, Jesse James.

Suspense over winners and losers is obviously a staple of the night. But there’s a twist this year thanks to Banksy, the elusive British bad-boy street artist and nominee for best documentary feature for his directing debut, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”

Will the artist who prefers to hide his face from public view suddenly turn ham and appear in front of a half-billion viewers? As the movie academy would put it, you’re invited to find out.

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Online:

http://www.oscars.org