A winter of discontent for the Academy Awards will culminate on Sunday in an Oscar ceremony that may lack a host but isn’t missing intrigue.
The run-up to the 91st Academy Awards has been a series of missteps and backtracks by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
A new best ‘popular film’ category was in, and then it was out. Kevin Hart was host and then he wasn’t. Some categories were removed from the live broadcast, and then they were back in.
But if the script for this Oscar season has been constantly rewritten, the film academy is hoping for a Hollywood ending – as well as much better ratings than the all-time low viewership last year.
A winter of discontent for the Academy Awards will culminate on Sunday in an Oscar ceremony that may lack a host but isn’t missing intrigue. Pictured: Workers set up an Oscars statue as preparations are made ahead of the 91st Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood
The run-up to the 91st Academy Awards has been a series of missteps and backtracks by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Pictured: TV host Tanika Ray, left, and Kristin Cavallari attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards
This includes a new best ‘popular film’ category that was in, and then it was out, and Kevin Hart being host and then host no longer. Pictured: Zuri Hall arrives for the 91st annual Academy Awards ceremony
Black Panther, which has been nominated in six categories, could become the first superhero film ever to win Best Picture at the 91st Academy Awards
Even if Black Panther doesn’t win, Marvel is sure to win its first Oscar for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, considered the overwhelming favorite for best animated film
After some unlikely Los Angeles weather – to much local fanfare, it snowed in parts of the city on Thursday – sunny skies emerged for red carpet arrivals.
Producers Donna Gigliotti and Glenn Weiss have pledged that the show – being broadcast on ABC beginning at 8pm – will be speedier this year, even though its initial goal of a three-hour broadcast has faded.
Kicking things off will be a performance by Queen, featuring Adam Lambert, to celebrate the best picture-nominee Bohemian Rhapsody.
In the academy’s favor is a popular crop of nominees. Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born and Black Panther have all amassed huge sums in ticket sales. Typically, when there are box-office hits – a la Titanic – more people watch the Oscars.
But just how many people have seen one of the top nominees and the film favored to win best picture – Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma – remains unknown.
Netflix has declined to give box-office results or steaming viewership. It remains a nominee unlike any other.
Should Roma – a black-and-white, Spanish and Mixtec language film about a domestic worker in a Mexican family – win, it will be both the first Netflix movie to win best picture and the first foreign language film to do so.
Yet this year’s race has been maddeningly unpredictable, with the usual predictive awards being spread across contenders such as Peter Farrelly’s Green Book, a divisive period dramedy about a black pianist and his white chauffeur; the royal romp The Favourite; and Ryan Coogler’s Marvel sensation Black Panther, which could become the first superhero film ever to win Hollywood’s top award.
Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born and Black Panther have all amassed huge sums in ticket sales. Typically, when there are box-office hits – a la Titanic – more people watch the Oscars. Pictured: A worker removes a plastic cover from an Oscars statue as preparations are made ahead of the 91st Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood
After some unlikely Los Angeles weather, sunny skies emerged for red carpet arrivals. The show is being broadcast on ABC beginning at 8pm. Pictured: Scott Evans, left, and Sibley Scoles attends the 91st Annual Academy Awards
Beginning the Oscar broadcast at 8pm on ABC will be a performance by Queen, featuring Adam Lambert, to celebrate the best picture-nominee Bohemian Rhapsody. Pictured: Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in a scene from Bohemian Rhapsody
A Star Is Born, which has amassed huge sums in ticket sales, could win Best Picture or a Best Actress win for Lady Gaga. Pictured: Bradley Cooper, left, and Lady Gaga in a scene from A Star is Born
Other milestones are possible, too. Though Cuaron is favored for best director, a win for Spike Lee for BlacKkKlansman would make him the first black filmmaker to ever win the award.
Lee has said he likes his film’s underdog position as a ‘dark horse – pun intended.’ Lee and his fellow screenwriters are also up for best screenplay, which would give the 61-year-old Lee his first competitive Oscar.
Many also expect Glenn Close, in her seventh nomination, to finally win one. She’s the front-runner for best actress for her performance in The Wife, a film about the overlooked and under-honored spouse of an acclaimed novelist.
Though Lady Gaga began the season as the favorite, Close has won a string of awards leading up to the Oscars, including at Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards where she brought her dog, Pip, along as a date.
One virtual lock: Marvel will win its first Oscar. Though Black Panther, up for six awards and could win in a number of categories, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is considered the overwhelming favorite for best animated film.
Last year’s Oscars followed the rise of the #MeToo movement, the launch of the gender equality group Time’s Up and the downfall of Harvey Weinstein.
A year after best-actress winner Frances McDormand urged the adoption of an inclusion rider – a contractual stipulation for the diversity of a film’s cast and crew -numerous production companies, stars and one studio, Warner Brothers, have made similar pledges.
Glenn Close, after her seventh nomination, to expected to finally receive her first win for best actress for her performance in The Wife, a film about the overlooked and under-honored spouse of an acclaimed novelist. Pictured: Close, left, and Jonathan Pryce in a scene from The Wife
The film favored to win Best Picture, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, would be the first Netflix movie and the first foreign language film to do so. Pictured: Yalitza Aparicio, center, in a scene from Roma
Kevin Hart (pictured at the 88th Academy Awards in February 2016) was announced as host in December, but then past homophobic tweets began to go viral and he stepped down. Without a host, the Oscars will instead have a slew of presenters including Barbra Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, Tina Fey and Samuel L Jackson
How much gender equality will be discussed at this year’s Oscars is unclear. Many have criticized this year’s selections for lacking a female nominee in the best director categor or a best picture nominee directed by a woman.
Recent studies have shown that Hollywood improved on many counts in diversity and gender parity in 2018, but remains far from equitable for women and people of color.
In the last few years, the academy has considerably increased its membership in an effort to diversify its ranks, which have historically been overwhelmingly white and male. In June, the academy invited a record 928 new members.
Several of this year’s nominees have been affected by sexual misconduct allegations. Bohemian Rhapsody director Bryan Singer, who was fired in mid-production, was accused of sexually assaulting minors; he has denied it.
Incredibles 2 producer and Pixar co-founder John Lasseter last year departed the Walt Disney Co after acknowledging missteps in his behavior with female employees, but he ha since been hired by Skydance Media.
Kevin Hart was announced as host in December, but then past homophobic tweets began to go viral and he stepped down.
Without a host, the film academy has emphasized its eclectic lineup of presenters. They include: Barbra Streisand, Congressman John Lewis, Serena Williams, Mike Myers, Chadwick Boseman, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Brie Larson, Awkwafina and Samuel L Jackson.
After initially scaling back performance of best song nominees, four of the five songs will be performed. The exception is Kendrick Lamar and SZA, who will no longer perform All the Stars from ‘Black Panther.’