Which Fallen Star Will Anchor This Year's Oscars 'In Memoriam' Segment?

The 86th annual Academy Awards are being held this Sunday night, March 2, after being bumped out of the month of February by a two-week long fundraiser for Vladimir Putin. The broadcast will mark the climax of this year's sloggy, seemingly endless awards season, which thanks to the rise of the Oscar bloggers, has been drained of the element of surprise that used to make this time of year so exciting. By this point, the presumptive favorites in the major categories seem to have their campaigns on lock, but there is ONE segment of the show left that truly has retained its suspenseful nature: The In Memoriam segment!

We can only imagine the heated conversations that go on behind closed doors at the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (heh heh, “sciences”) while they’re editing this politically loaded segment. Putting ourselves in their very expensive shoes for a moment, we figure that you need to lead the montage off with a notable death, but not TOO notable; producers want audience members to start clapping right away, but you don’t want every other death that follows to be an emotional letdown.

Like a great mixtape, a well-executed death montage has to ebb and flow just so; culturally significant losses must be properly offset with notable industry deaths (guild presidents, producers, network suits), names of whom the viewing public at home will not recognize, so that applause stays steady and doesn’t come to a crashing halt before ending. So, it goes without saying that video has to play well in the room AND also to the millions watching in their living rooms, which is exactly why the ANCHOR position is so important.

The anchor, as you well know, is the very last person in the death montage (if you're being PC, the "In Memoriam" segment). They are the last face that the audience sees and, consequently, the person with whom the audience will remember the most as representing the year that was. With that said, the anchor better DAMN well be someone who is important not just to the industry, but to the culture-at-large—last year, it was composer Marvin Hamlisch which meant that Barbra Streisand appeared to sing "The Way We Were" for her dear friend. So, producers find themselves asking themselves whose sepia-toned headshot BEST embodies the communal spirit of television? Which person can best warm the nation’s cathode tubes and liquid crystal displays in such a way that make tearing up inevitable? Which dead celebrity will keep the audience from flipping over to HBO to find out the identity of the Yellow King on True Detective?

With that in mind, what you'll find here is a guide to handicapping who the Academy feels is the most important person to die since last year's telecast. Some poor schlub has probably been locked in a windowless room in Los Angeles for the last few days feverishly editing this segment together using Final Cut Pro, all the while cursing at Harold Ramis for having the gall to die just a few days before the Oscars.

So let's take a moment to consider the headspace of the lowly editor, and handicap which star of the silver screen will be anchoring this year's In Memoriam segment.

Mark Graham (aka Uncle Grambo) is a picker, a grinner, a lover, and a sinner, as well as being someone who spends a fair amount of time in the dark with strangers. He also watches movies occasionally, too. You can find him on Twitter at @unclegrambo and on Tumblr.