Excitement is mounting and predictions are swirling – Hollywood is ready for the 91st Academy Awards ceremony.
The host-free Oscars will be held on February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. It marks the biggest night in film, with the biggest stars in the industry.
This year’s nominations were announced a month ago, and the list reflects the ongoing awards calendar, which will soon embrace its grand finale on Sunday night.
Can Alfonso Cuaron be beaten?
Two foreign directors lead the pack this year: “Roma,” directed by Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuaron, and “The Favourite,” helmed by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. Both garnered 10 nods each and will go head-to-head in major categories, such as best picture and best director.
Cuaron was nominated for best picture as a producer, best director, best original screenplay and best cinematography, tying the record for the most Oscar nominations received by an individual.
He took home the award for best director at the 2014 Oscars for his space epic “Gravity,” becoming the first Latin American director to be honored in this category. Vanity Fair magazine describes him as “one of contemporary film’s most skillful technical wizards.”
And this time around, the filming magician might make history again with his “most personal” work to date, which is likely to be the first foreign-language film to win best picture.
A fierce battle among best picture nods
Since its stunning debut at the Venice Film Festival in September, Cuaron’s Mexican masterpiece “Roma” has been basking in critical acclaim as it has swept major categories at multiple awards ceremonies over the past half year.
The black-and-white film won best director and best foreign language film at last month’s Golden Globes, best director and best picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards, and recently raked in four honors including best film, best direction and best cinematography at the BAFTAs.
Will it triumph on Sunday night? We’ll have to wait for the envelope to be opened for the answer.
One thing is certain, “Roma” will encounter stiff competition from other strong contenders, including Golden Globe winners “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” as well as Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” aside from the other most-nominated film, “The Favourite.”
Will 7th time be a charm for Glenn Close?
One of the Oscars’ most memorable moments happened in 2016 when Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Academy Award after six career nominations. This year’s ceremony might witness another tear-jerking moment for veteran actress Glenn Close.
Close’s towering performance as a long-suffering spouse in the film “The Wife” has received considerable adulation, bringing her a number of accolades this awards season, from the Golden Globes to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
The 71-year-old actress enters Sunday night with her seventh Oscar nomination. Many would like to see her bag an elusive Oscar after all these years. However, she faces extremely strong competition.
Thanks to her excellent portrayal of the frail and volatile Queen Anne in the ink-dark comedy “The Favourite,” Olivia Colman, who was named best actress in Venice and also garnered a Golden Globe in the comedy category, is a contender that cannot be overlooked.
Will blockbuster hits enjoy Oscar glory?
After a record 41.7-billion-U.S.-dollar global box office in 2018, crowd-pleasers like “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” are vying for Oscars.
With a groundbreaking seven nominations, “Black Panther” is the first Marvel superhero adaptation to be nominated for best picture in Oscars history. With great acknowledgment from Hollywood critics and a global box office haul of over 1.3 billion U.S. dollars, the film is by all means a success.
Lady Gaga’s acclaimed performance in the film “A Star Is Born” brought her a Critics’ Choice Award for best actress, which she shared with Close. She is the first Oscar nominee named for both best actress and best original song.
As Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, the film, which received eight nominations, puts Cooper in the running for an Oscar as a director and actor.
With five nods, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is another potential winner after taking home the Golden Globe for best drama. Rami Malek’s performance as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury has also earned him top honors from BAFTA and SAG.
However, it doesn’t mean he is a lock to win the Oscar given Christian Bale’s persuasive portrayal as former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in political comedy “Vice,” as well as Viggo Mortensen’s equally outstanding performance in “Green Book.”
Can the host-less Oscars still deliver?
For the first time in 30 years, the Oscars will be without a host, but the lineup of celebrities and performances will look to keep the crowd of A-listers and TV viewers entertained.
As a tradition, the nominees for best original song will perform at the grand gala. Gaga and Cooper will team up again to perform the hit song “Shallow” while Queen plus Adam Lambert will open the ceremony.
High-profile presenters will appear during the ceremony to keep the night moving. The presenters – many of whom come from outside of Hollywood, such as Serena Williams, Congressman John Lewis and chef Jose Andres – will share what the films mean to them and introduce nominees, according to the Academy.
Though the Academy has been fighting over shortening the show to within three hours, the Sunday broadcast will still certainly be longer than that. However, more musical elements and “a very different stage design” can be expected.
Donna Gigliotti, the lead producer of the 91st Academy Awards, said, “The big theme of the show is about movies connecting us – not in this theater but in a big, sweeping, cultural way.”