USA TODAY film critic Brian Truitt predicts who will take home an Oscar this year and who really deserves it.
It’s go time: Awards season draws to a grand finale this weekend with the biggest show of all, the Oscars.
The awards will feature three major box office hits in the mix for best picture – “Black Panther,” “A Star Is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” – and Rami Malek is favored for best actor for his performance as Freddie Mercury.
While many of the races are too close to call, pundits are predicting best-actress nominee Glenn Close (“The Wife”) will break her streak of seven nominations without a win, Mahershala Ali will take home his second supporting actor Oscar (for “Green Book”) and Regina King will win best supporting actress for “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
Here’s everything else you need to know for the big night.
How can I watch the show?
The 91st annual Academy Awards will be televised live Sunday on ABC, starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 PT.
Online and mobile users can watch on ABC.go.com, on TV provider apps (such as Spectrum or YouTube) or through the ABC app (signed into a TV provider).
Predictions: Who will win Oscars — and who should
What about the red carpet?
ABC’s official arrival program, “Oscars Opening Ceremony: Live From the Red Carpet,” kicks off at 6:30 ET/3:30 PT and wraps up as the show starts.
The pros start early with ABC’s “Oscars Countdown: The Red Carpet LIVE!” starting at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, as does “E! Countdown to the Red Carpet.” Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic take over with “E! Live From the Red Carpet” at 5 ET/2 PT.
The red carpet digital livestream begins at 6 ET/3 PT on @ENews Twitter, the E! News app and eonline.com.
So who is hosting? Kevin Hart?
For the first time since 1989, there will be no Oscar host. The job was first offered to Dwayne Johnson, but the busiest guy in Hollywood couldn’t make it work between filming blockbusters. Kevin Hart took the gig, but withdrew following outcry over his past homophobic tweets.
No one else has stepped into the entirely thankless job of hosting (“You’re not getting me,” two-time host Chris Rock said). How show producers Glenn Weiss and Donna Gigliotti will handle the host-less Oscars is a mystery.
Viewers are cool with that. In a poll conducted exclusively for USA TODAY on ticket site Fandango.com, 95% of 3,000 frequent moviegoers said they will still watch the Oscars without a host.
Which stars are presenting awards?
There have been persistent reports that movie superheroes would fill in as de facto hosts. The Academy hasn’t confirmed, but the presenter list is filled with supersuits: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Tessa Thompson, Jason Momoa, Chris Evans, Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson. Superstars joining those crime fighters include Jennifer Lopez, Awkwafina, Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Daniel Craig, Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, Emilia Clarke, James McAvoy and Melissa McCarthy.
Will Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sing?
The “A Star Is Born” super duo of Cooper and Gaga will sing together for the first time on an awards stage.
The Academy had planned to limit the nominated song performances to “Shallow” and Kendrick Lamar’s “All the Stars” from “Black Panther,” but backtracked after an outcry.
All five nominated songs will be performed. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings will perform “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns” will be handled by Bette Midler. And Jennifer Hudson will belt “I’ll Fight” from the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG.”
Then there is a wild card. The Academy announced Monday that Adam Lambert and Queen will perform during the show, but the song is under wraps.
How long will the show the go?
The Academy had aimed to keep the show to a manageable three hours. But definitely program extra time on the DVR, even if this perennial run-time goal seemed more achievable this year without a lengthy opening monologue.
Oscar winners have been urged to speak passionately, but briefly: They’ve been allotted 90 seconds to get from their seat to the podium and finish their speech before the orchestra plays them off.
The Academy also planned to save time by presenting four awards (makeup and hairstyling, live-action short, cinematography and film editing) during commercial breaks, then airing edited footage at the end of the broadcast. But outcry from stars such as George Clooney and Brad Pitt compelled the Academy to reverse this decision.
All awards will now air live, all songs will be sung, which will add to the telecast’s length. Producers have conceded the show will almost certainly be more than three hours.
Hollywood outcry: Academy reverses Oscars plans, will air all awards live after all
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