Tamara Warren: It’s Hollywood’s big night. If the Academy and its 5,000-plus power-hitting members stay on message, this could be their biggest blockbuster broadcast in years to make a case for why movies matter. The Oscars might be entertainment and escapism, but they’re also our most mainstream representation of popular culture, which is first in line in the president’s firing squad for arts funding and free speech. Meryl Streep, as always, has given the nominees the blueprint on how to rock a winning acceptance speech. Be clear. Be real. Be brave. But I’m worried. The ultimate bro of bros, Jimmy Kimmel, is hosting, and he’s already said he plans to play it safe. And his bosses at ABC, and their marquee advertisers, are watching. But let’s stop and think about what playing it safe really means. Flash back to other play-it-safe comedians, like nine-time Oscar host Billy Crystal, who made terrible racist jokes in his 2012 schtick, or Seth McFarlane’s 2013 ridiculous boob jokes, or Chris Rock’s digs on offensive Asian stereotypes last year. And then there’s Hollywood’s affinity for getting lost in the safe space of navel-gazing at its own reflection, and slapping self-congratulatory Best Picture prizes on films about making art: Birdman over Selma , or The Artist ahead of The Help . If the Academy voters decide to linger in La La Land instead of honoring Moonlight, that’s a tough metaphor to swallow about the message Hollywood wants to send to the world.