For whatever reason, I didn't know that Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams were teaming up to write and arrange the musical accompaniment to Sunday's Oscar ceremony. (Is that partly why Zimmer withdrew himself from consideration for "Rango?") If this had happened in last year's "we're young and hip -- honest!" ceremony, you know we'd have been reminded of the N.E.R.D. beatsmith's involvement ad nauseum. As it stands, it comes as a pleasant surprise: while I somehow doubt these musical interludes will be as memorable as the pair suggest in this interview ("We're going crazy!" Zimmer boasts, showing off the synths and drum machines that will sit amid the traditional Oscar orchestra), it's a pleasingly inventive step for telecast -- and with the nixing of the Best Original Song performances, the only aural fix we'll get all evening. [LA Times]

Meanwhile, to perform at the post-Oscar Governors' Ball, the Academy has chosen "that rare artist who reaches across generations," Tony Bennett. And you thought they were a bunch of old white guys. [Thompson on Hollywood]

James Rocchi has a few suggestions for improving the Oscars. Among them: fix the Best Picture category at eight nominees, and while you're about it, raise all other categories to the same number. [The Hitlist]

Bradley Porter is on a similar mission to mend the awards. LOVE his Mid-Year Voting idea. [Eat Sleep Live Film

Xan Brooks asks: Is "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" the worst Best Picture nominee ever? I answer: It's not even the worst Best Picture nominee this year. [The Guardian]

Glenn Close on making "Albert Nobbs": "I cried when I first saw myself as a man." Oh, fill in your own jokes.[The Telegraph]

Steven James Snyder feeds Oscar viewers lines that'll make them sound smart on Sunday. Fine, but will people please stop referring to Viola Davis's likely Best Actress win as an "upset?" [Time]

The Academy denies that it has banned Sacha Baron Cohen from the Oscars on Sunday. Fine, but what about The Dictator? [The Independent]

Greg Ellwood offers some predictions for Saturday's Spirit Awards. Nothing for "The Artist?" [Awards Campaign]

Nathaniel Rakich breaks down the three technical categories giving him the most trouble in his predictions. [Base Ballot]

Everyone's going to be scrutinizing the gowns on Sunday, but what about the guys? The excellently named Guy Trebay discusses the art of the tux. [New York Times