Oscars 2022: Five big questions ahead of Sunday’s ceremony

On Sunday, the Academy Awards will attempt to bounce again from a 2021 ceremony that was suffering from pandemic restrictions, a botched ending and record-low scores.

NEW YORK — The Academy Awards have at all times cherished a comeback story. This year, the Oscars try to star in a single, too.

On Sunday, the Academy Awards will attempt to bounce again from a 2021 ceremony that was plagued by pandemic restrictions, a botched ending and record-low ratings. The 94th Academy Awards will return to their typical residence, Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre, and be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 8 p.m. EDT. (It’s additionally doable to stream it reside on providers like Hulu Live TV, YouTubeTV and on ABC.com with supplier authentication.)

How a lot of the Oscars’ downturn needs to be chalked as much as COVID-19? How a lot is it the brand new regular? These are just a few of the questions that dangle over an Academy Awards that feels like a crossroads for one of America’s most enduring pop-culture institutions, and nonetheless the most-watched annual present outdoors the Super Bowl.

Can the Will Packer-produced awards shrug off the pandemic, reverse years of declining scores for community TV award reveals and coalesce a big-tent occasion for a quick evolving film panorama? In the interminable run-up to the springtime Oscars, many within the trade have been skeptical. Which leads us to the primary of 5 questions heading into the present.

Will the Oscars’ newest makeover work?

The largest drama heading into Sunday revolves round a broadcast that has been considerably retooled to stem the scores slide. As if making up for a number of host-less years, this time there are three: Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes. Will their mixed star energy transfer the needle in any respect?

Facing strain from ABC, the academy can even first current eight classes — manufacturing design, enhancing, sound, rating, make-up and hairstyling, and the three quick movie awards — before the telecast begins. Clips of their wins and speeches will probably be edited into the present. Critics all through the trade, although, have lined as much as decry the change. The largest union representing behind-the-scenes employees, IATSE, on Monday referred to as the choice detrimental to the “fundamental purpose” of the Oscars.

So what’s going to Packer do with the additional time? Beyoncé and Billie Eilish will perform their nominated songs. An eclectic group of presenters has additionally been introduced, together with some sudden names like DJ Khaled, Tony Hawk, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Shaun White — so this might lastly be the year that Judi Dench learns how you can carry out a “McTwist.”

Will a streamer take residence finest image?

The two favorites each hail from streaming providers, which have ever received finest image. The lead nominee, Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog,” up for 12 awards, had lengthy been the presumed frontrunner, and presumably Netflix’s finest probability but to win Hollywood’s prime award. But after back-to-back wins with the Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild, Sian Heder’s deaf household drama “CODA” might have the sting. The movie’s deep-pocketed backer, Apple TV+, has spent big to push a feel-good underdog indie to the entrance of the pack. If “CODA” wins, it is going to be the primary time since 1932’s “Grand Hotel” {that a} movie with fewer than 4 nominations (“CODA” has three) took finest image. Some predictions this year have been wildly off, although, so different nominees like Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” might nonetheless pull off an upset.

How a lot will COVID drag down the celebration?

Last year’s Oscars decamped to Union Station for an intimate present with a small quantity of attendees and plenty of social distancing. This year, a full stage present and crimson carpet is deliberate, albeit with uneven COVID-19 protocols. Attendees are required to submit two detrimental exams and proof of vaccination. Those presenting or performing do not must be vaccinated however want latest detrimental exams. Masks will probably be within the combine, too, for attendees sitting outdoors the orchestra on the Dolby and for media on the crimson carpet. After quite a few attendees contracted the virus after attending the March 13 BAFTAs in London, a number of nominees have been quarantining, together with Branagh and “Belfast” co-star Ciarán Hinds. With an infection and hospitalization charges method down, Los Angeles County is about to carry many virus restrictions for indoor occasions on April 1, 5 days after the Oscars.

Will Will Smith win his first Oscar?

Nominated twice earlier than for finest actor (for “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happyness”), Will Smith seems a lock to win his first Academy Award. Smith’s performance as Richard Williams, father to Venus and Serena, in “King Richard” has remained the most certainly selection all through the season. And the speech by the exuberant 53-year-old star needs to be one of essentially the most energetic of the evening. A win, although, should come over some formidable competitors — together with the actor who bested Smith’s “Ali” efficiency 20 years in the past: Denzel Washington, a winner then for “Training Day” and a menace this time for “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

Who’s set to make historical past?

Many of the highest awards might function some main milestones. Ari Wegner, cinematographer of “The Power of Dog,” might turn into the primary girl to ever win that award. Her director, Jane Campion, can be poised to make historical past. Campion, the primary ladies ever nominated twice for finest director, is about to turn into solely the third girl to win the class. It would mark the primary time the directing award has ever gone to ladies in back-to-back years, after “Nomadland” filmmaker Chloé Zhao won last year.

Troy Kotsur of “CODA” is in line to be the primary deaf male actor to win an Oscar. His extensively anticipated win would make him and his “CODA” co-star Marlee Matlin the one deaf actors to land Academy Awards. And supporting actress, which Ariana DeBose seemingly has sewn up for her breakthrough role in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” might even see the primary Afro-Latina and brazenly LGBTQ actor win within the class. A win for DeBose would come 60 years after Rita Moreno received for a similar function, Anita, within the 1961 unique. That can be the third time that two actors have received for taking part in the identical function, following Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix because the Joker, and Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro as Vito Corleone. But we’ll have to attend and see if DeBose’s “West Side Story” co-star Rachel Zegler is there to cheer her on.

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