LOS ANGELES — It’s almost time to give the Academy Awards a big boost.
Okay, maybe we should rephrase that.
A year after Will Smith took the stage at the Dolby Theater and slapped Chris Rock in the face, the Oscars will reconvene on Sunday for a ceremony that will try to top one of the most infamous moments in Oscar history.
The telecast from Dolby in Los Angeles begins at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC. The broadcast can be streamed with a subscription on Hulu Live TV, YouTubeTV, AT&T TV and Fubo TV. You can also stream the show on ABC.com and the ABC app by verifying your provider’s identity.
Jimmy Kimmel, the show’s first solo emcee in five years, is hosting for the third time. The late-night comedian has promised to crack a few jokes for The Slap. it would be “ridiculous” not to, he said.
Bill Cramer, chief executive of the film academy, said it was important, given what happened last year, to have “a host who can really spin and manage these moments”.
“Nobody got hit when I hosted the show,” Kimmel boasted Thursday on “Good Morning America.” “Everyone behaved well at my Oscars.”
Kimmel will preside over a ceremony that could see big wins for best picture favorite “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s indie action-comedy hit comes in with 11 top nominations, including characters for Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan.
Producers are revamping some aspects of the Oscars. The carpet is a champagne color, not red. The show is planned to be more interactive than ever.
But the academy, still trying to find its footing after years of pandemic and ratings struggles, is also hoping for a smoother ride than last year. A crisis management team has been created to help better deal with surprises. The academy called its response to Smith’s actions last year “inadequate.” Neither Rock, who recently gave his most forceful statement about the incident in a live special, nor Smith, who has been banned from the academy for 10 years, are expected to attend.
The Academy Awards will try to recapture some of its former glory. One thing works in its favor: This year’s best picture field is stacked with blockbusters. Ratings usually go up when candidates are more popular, which is certainly true of “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Avatar: The Way of Water” and, to a lesser extent, “Elvis” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” .
However, the last few years’ contender that might do well in the technical categories — where bigger films often reign — is Netflix’s top contender this year: the German World War I epic All Quiet on the Western Front”. It’s up for nine awards, tied for second with Irish dark comedy The Banshees of Inisherin. Netflix’s “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” also looks like a shoo-in for best animated feature.
The awards will also have some stars in the musical performances. Kicking off her Super Bowl performance, Rihanna will perform her Oscar-nominated song, “Lift Me Up,” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” “This Is Life,” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” will be sung by David Byrne and supporting actress nominee Stephanie Hsu with the band Son Lux. Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava will perform ‘Naatu Naatu’ from Indian action epic ‘RRR’. Lenny Kravitz will perform during the In Memoriam tribute. (Lady Gaga, currently in film production, will not perform her nominated song “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick.”)
Last year, Apple TV’s “CODA” became the first streaming movie to win best picture. But this year, nine of the 10 Best Picture nominations were theatrical releases. After cinema cratered during the pandemic, cinema traffic has recovered to around 67% of pre-pandemic levels. But it’s been an up-and-down year, full of blockbuster hits and anxiety-inducing lullabies in theaters.
At the same time, the rush to stream ran into new obstacles as studios questioned long-term profitability and rethought their release strategies. This year, ticket sales were strong thanks to releases like ‘Creed III’ and ‘Cocaine Bear’. But storm clouds remain on the horizon. The Writers Guild and the major studios are set to begin contract negotiations on March 20, a looming battle that has much of the industry bracing for the possibility of a work stoppage across film and television.
The Oscars, meanwhile, are trying to restore their status as the premier awards show. Last year’s telecast drew 16.6 million viewers, a 58% increase over the scaled-down 2021 edition, which was watched by an all-time low of 10.5 million.
Usually, last year’s acting winners give out the Best Actor and Best Actress awards. But that won’t happen this time. Who will replace Smith in the Best Actress presentation is just one of the questions surrounding the ceremony.
Follow AP film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
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