Tonight is Hollywood’s biggest awards show — and this year, its most controversial one. Some actors and filmmakers are boycotting the show in response to its repeated failure to recognize the work of non-white artists, but you should still expect most of the nominees to drag themselves out to the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles to be feted by their peers. Chris Rock is hosting, and there will be performances from Lady Gaga, Sam Smith, The Weeknd, and — why not? — Dave Grohl. And who would want to miss Leonardo DiCaprio (probably) winning his first Oscar? Finally, that bear fight will pay off.
The show, which starts at 7PM (ET ) and is airing on ABC, is slated to be boycotted by some Hollywood figures who are protesting about the lack of ethnic diversity among this year’s nominees. All 20 nominees in the best acting or supporting acting categories are white.
- CHRIS ROCK TO HOST
The toughest gig in showbiz is hosting the Academy Awards. With TV ratings on the slide and ethical scrutiny of the Oscars on the up, the 2016 ceremony will be tougher on its MC than ever before.
Therefore you have to admire comedian Chris Rock for bravely stepping up to take a swig from what could well be a poisoned chalice.
Will he burn up the stage with one hot-topic zinger after another? Or will he crash into a wall of silence and tumbleweeds?
It will all come down to the first three jokes in Rock’s opening monologue. If two of ‘em land on target, he’s off and away. One or none, and this could be a very long and laboured evening.
The black comedian is known for dealing with racial issues in his routines and it is expected he will make reference to the recent controversy.
- The ‘D-word’
DIVERSITY. This year’s Oscars ceremony is going to be desperate to prove to the world that everything won’t be all white on the night.
However, the uniformly pale skin tones of the 2016 nominees — which has already sparked a justifiable public outcry — will cancel out any and all attempts to silence criticism of an obvious entrenched racial bias in Hollywood.
But is the world expecting too much of the Academy Awards in this respect? Wishing for a slick popularity contest to suddenly hold up a clear mirror to society is like putting rollerskates on a horse.
There will be movement. But not in any meaningful direction. A change is gonna come in the years ahead. However, the best that can be hoped for now is awareness, and a lot of it.
- Anything more to say? Strike up the band!
45 seconds. If you win an Oscar in 2016, that will be all the time you have to thank God, your spouse, agent, stylist, kids, fans, fitness trainer and perhaps commemorate the memory of a deceased favourite pet.
Telecast producers have issued a stern edict to all nominees that if they break the 45-second barrier, then the house orchestra will break into song and blast them off the stage.
Even with the promise of an on-screen scroll that will list additional acknowledgments on behalf of rambling winners, this could get very ugly, very quickly.
- BEST ACTOR OSCAR
Leonardo DiCaprio is widely expected to take home his first best actor Oscar later. The Revenant, which he is nominated for, is also seen as a strong contender for best picture and best director.
- BEST ACTRESS OSCAR