As I understand it the alleged “Revenant can’t win because it’s too divisive” scenario means this: (a) Revenant support is impassioned but lacks the numbers to win a sufficient majority on the first ballot and therefore (b) when they do a second count all of those second-place votes for Spotlight will kick in and put it over the top. Or something like that. But as much as I love Spotlight and am in the tank for it as far as that goes, I just don’t think it has the horses. The passion vote (i.e., people who came out of it saying “whoa, never saw a film that intense and immersive and raw as the outdoors before”) belongs to The Revenant. But how many are out there?

Probably enough, I’m thinking, but there’s also enough of a head-scratching factor to make the end of tonight’s Oscar telecast a spellbinder. Side issue: Hollywood Elsewhere has been invited to the Spotlight after-party. Obviously the vibe will be one thing if it wins Best Picture and another if it doesn’t. If I’m the hearty fellow I think I am, I’ll attend either way.

I sense the possibility of slight disfavor aimed at Chris Rock if he hammers it too hard during tonight’s opening monologue. If not disfavor then…what, a certain coolness? There seems to be considerable sentiment among the 60-plus crowd against the Academy’s decision to take the vote from inactive geezers (even Steven Spielberg has sided with this view), and I’m sensing that a certain portion of the Kodak audience may be disinclined to laugh and cheer and fall out of their seats and roll in the aisles if Rock’s schtick is extra-militant. Just a feeling. If I know Rock he’s gonna go for it.

The HE live bloggy-blog will begin at 5:30 pm or whenever the show starts.