Los Angeles Times

Flash and volume likely to defeat subtlety in this year's acting Oscar races

Late in the World War II drama "Darkest Hour," Winston Churchill - played, in case you hadn't heard, by Gary Oldman - delivers his famous "We shall fight on the beaches" speech in the House of Commons, a piece of oration so rousing that it brings his listeners to their feet.

For a moment ripped from the pages of history, the scene feels curiously prophetic: less a blast from the past than a dress rehearsal for Oscar night.

If he wins the Academy Award for lead actor on March 4, as he is widely expected to do, Oldman will likely earn another standing ovation, this time while wearing a tuxedo rather than a fat suit and prosthetics. An upset might still be brewing - as last year's epic envelope snafu reminds us, anything can happen - but any other outcome would have to be reckoned a major surprise.

The same goes for Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and

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