'AND the nominees are . . .' Four words that kick-started Oscar frenzy in earnest, were uttered by the show's latest host, Seth MacFarlane, on Thursday morning , announcing which movies, casts and crews are up for the ultimate industry nod, come February 24.
Year-on-year, the public interest in the Academy Awards' shortlist, show and red carpet seems to be unwavering in intensity. But do tomorrow's Golden Globe Awards and the other awards' season ceremonies have any chance of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with entertainment's grand spectacle, and do the Oscars still have the Midas Touch?
The spring hunger for celebrity and fashion was traditionally satiated by the Academy Awards alone, but in this platinum age of media and the propagated 'fame game', red-carpet events are 10-a-penny, providing a constant flow of star-gazing fodder.
From January to late February, we are bombarded with countless award ceremonies, such as the Globes, Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) and Grammys, complete with red carpets, witty and emotional acceptance speeches, after-parties and associated pomp. All formerly lower-key affairs, these events have upped the ante in recent years to compete with the Academy Awards.
But even with live broadcast reportage and gaggles of blogs devoted to "What They Wore" at various events, the Oscars, which will see its 85th anniversary this year, has not been watered down in relevance or prestige.
This year there is much talk of the Oscars and the Globes going head-to-head. Although they are broadcast over a month apart, the latter's producers are keen to become the big fish. To say they have their work cut out for them is an understatement.
'The Hollywood Reporter' ponders that the choice of on-trend comic actors and writers for both ceremonies is no accident. The Golden Globes' choice of ' Saturday Night Live' alumni Tina Fey and Amy Poehler is deemed to be smart, playing to the award show genre's strength – a predominantly female audience.
The Oscars' producers went with the more risque Seth MacFarlane, and the ' Family Guy' creator does not boast a roster of "gal pal" material. He presented the nominees for this year's awards with actress Emma Stone in Hollywood last Thursday.
The Golden Globes' viewership is growing. Though the 'Reporter' claims that last year's audiences for the Globes were 17 million on NBC in the United States, versus the Oscars' 39 million on ABC, the trend is on the up for the ceremony that recognises excellence in film and television.
Increased budgets and on-demand technology have put the small screen on a par with its silver-screen sibling in terms of production values. The Golden Globes offers the more diverse guest list from a contemporary perspective: the casts of ' Glee', 'Homeland' and ' Mad Men' alongside those of 'Les Miserables', 'Lincoln' and ' The Hobbit'.
On the other hand, the Oscars exclusively invites nominees, former nominees and winners, and a hand-picked roster of A-list presenters to work the demographics. On any given year you could see Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, George Clooney or Angelina Jolie, regardless of their work in that year. The calibre of this guest list is arguably second-to-none.
Despite the thrill of such an occasion to fans of fashion, the Globes serve only as hors d'oeuvres to the golden statuette arrivals. Held in mid-January, the Globes' red carpet does not benefit from the hottest gowns from the runways of the Haute Couture or Fall 2013 fashion weeks.
The Academy Awards' late February schedule benefits from Fashion Month and the couture shows, offering stylists the most up-to-date options for their celebrity clients. Though designers offer custom and archive frocks for the SAGs and Globes, the Oscars will always be the most fashion-forward of them all.
So has the Academy Awards retained its Midas Touch in a sea of awards ceremonies? Even up against the dynamite draw of 'Mad Men' duo Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks, and the devaluation of the red carpet by six weeks of events, the Oscars easily conquers that awards season fatigue.
We will undoubtedly be raving about the Golden Globes on Monday morning, but by the afternoon it'll all be Oscar-talk.