Oscars Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need To Know!

Join us at 6 p.m. tonight live from the Academy Awards red carpet on MTVNews.com.

All across La La Land in the hectic hours before the 83rd Academy Awards, nominees are putting the finishing touches on the scraps of paper containing their — fingers crossed! — acceptance speeches. Limo drivers are gassing up their rides. And somewhere inside the bowels of the Kodak Theatre, co-host James Franco (or, more likely, James Franco’s assistant) is shining his shoes.

Meanwhile, you’re putting the finishing touches on your Oscar ballot or making sure your Oscar party doesn’t run out of Jesse Eisenburgers and King’s Peach Pie. Stressful!

Soon, though, the action on Hollywood’s biggest night will be under way. What can you expect when the show goes live? MTV News has got you covered. Read on for everything you need to know about this year’s Academy Awards:

The Live Coverage
The first thing you need to know is that MTV News will be everywhere on Oscar night. To begin the evening, we’ll be launching a red-carpet live stream at MTVNews.com from 6 to 8 p.m. ET tonight, where we’ll be chatting up everyone from Natalie Portman to Christian Bale. We’ll also be taking your questions via Twitter, so tweet your questions to @MTVNews using the hashtag #oscars for a chance to see your favorite celebrities fielding your own inquiries.

We’ll also be running a red-carpet fashion blog on Hollywood Crush. Once the show begins, shift over to Movies Blog for a live blog about the show itself. And, of course, we’ll be churning out loads of video, analyses and breakout stories across all our Web properties, so keep it locked to MTV News for the very latest updates about the show.

The Races
All week long, we’ve been previewing the major Oscar categories. Best Supporting Actress might be the tightest of all the top races, with Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”) grappling with Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) and Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech”). Best Supporting Actor couldn’t present more of a contrast: Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) long ago locked up this win. Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”), too, is a sure bet to win Best Actor, while Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) should coast to Best Actress victory (though Annette Bening ["The Kids Are All Right"] could play the spoiler). When it comes to Best Director , Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) is a slight favorite over David Fincher (“The Social Network”), but either of these gentlemen could walk away the victor. The same likely cannot be said about Best Picture: “King’s Speech” appears to have pulled away from “Social Network” and should end up the night’s big winner.

The Rundown
Deadline Hollywood has published the broad outline of the telecast, giving us a general idea of how things are going to go down. Franco and co-host Anne Hathaway will begin the evening with a pre-taped video in which they appear in scenes from the Best Picture nominees.

Tom Hanks will be the first presenter, announcing both Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography. Other presenters include Russell Brand, Sandra Bullock, Robert Downey Jr., Hugh Jackman, Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah Winfrey. Hilary Swank and Kathryn Bigelow will present Best Director and then, just before the clock strikes 11:30 p.m. on the East Coast, Steven Spielberg will hand out Best Picture.

So you think you have a good picture about what the Oscars are going to look like? Hopefully, but check out this TwitPic from Franco for what he simply calls “my view.”

Will it be a regal evening for “The King’s Speech”? Can “The Social Network” dial up Oscar gold? Don’t miss MTV News’ “2011 Oscars Live” at 6 p.m. tonight when we’ll be chatting with your favorite Hollywood stars live from the red carpet on MTVNews.com, and stick with us all Oscar night for winners, interviews, photos and more!