In the late 1960s, young cineastes shook up a moribund film industry by delivering idiosyncratic, startlingly original work. The moment became known as New Hollywood.
The 95th Academy Awards on Sunday night could mark the start of a new New Hollywood. After a tumultuous few years in which Oscar voters seemed to embrace the future (naming the all-Black, gay-themed “Moonlight” best picture in 2017) only to recoil to the past (selecting the retrograde “Green Book” in 2019), the academy is poised to unequivocally pick a side: The big winner on Sunday is widely expected to be the head-twisting, TikTok-era, dildo-brandishing “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
“Everything Everywhere,” which received a field-leading 11 nominations, is the favorite — based on wins at ceremonies that precede the Oscars — to be honored as best picture, with the Daniels, the young filmmaking duo behind the movie, celebrated as best director. (The Daniels is an oh-so-cool sobriquet for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.) The film’s star, Michelle Yeoh, has a shot at winning best actress, something an Asian woman has never done before.
But some longtime awards prognosticators — notably Pete Hammond, the veteran Deadline.com critic and Oscar forecaster — think that voters could once again deliver a Lucy-pulling-away-the-football moment and honor a much more traditional movie, the war drama “All Quiet on the Western Front.” It’s so traditional, in fact, that a previous adaptation of the famed novel won the best picture Oscar in 1931.
How will the ceremony be different this year?
In some ways, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is trying to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to new and old. Academy officials have said the show will have a more modern feeling, with video screens wrapping around the sides of the theater. But they have also have promised a return to the polished, glamorous Oscar shows of the past (an effort to reset after Will Smith’s ugly behavior last year) in which all 23 categories are presented live (eight were scuttled to a nontelevised portion last time).
The only thing to perhaps count on for sure: It will not be a short affair. Expect the telecast to last at least three and a half hours, with four as a better bet.
Who is hosting?
Jimmy Kimmel, a rather safe choice, given that his humor is more self-deprecating than skewering and that he has previously hosted twice (in 2017 and 2018). He has said he plans to deliver a traditional monologue. In recent years, the Oscars have experimented with different setups, going host free in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and last year hiring a trio of comedians: Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes.
Will he discuss The Slap?
Oscar organizers desperately want to move on from last year’s debacle, in which Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage. They have said they would prefer if Kimmel didn’t mention it at all.
Kimmel, however, seems to know that viewers expect him to address the fracas during his monologue. On Thursday, at a publicity event where the academy announced that this year’s red carpet would, in fact, be the color of champagne (it’s more fashionable, apparently), Kimmel cracked that the choice “shows just how confident we are that no blood will be shed.”
What entertainment is planned?
Lady Gaga will perform her nominated song from “Top Gun: Maverick, and Rihanna will sing her nominated song from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
Other musical numbers will be contributed by nominees like Sofia Carson, Son Lux, Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava. Yes, there is an “RRR” dance sequence planned. Lenny Kravitz will croon during the popular In Memoriam segment.
Who will be presenting?
About 50 people are lined up to hand out awards, including Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Kate Hudson, Riz Ahmed, Elizabeth Olsen, Emily Blunt, Jennifer Connelly, Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Majors, Elizabeth Banks, Melissa McCarthy, Florence Pugh, John Cho, Nicole Kidman, Danai Gurira, Hugh Grant, Sigourney Weaver and John Travolta.
In the acting categories, it is customary for the previous winners to return to bestow honors. But one winner from last year was not invited: Smith, who was subsequently barred from the Oscars for 10 years. The academy hasn’t said who will hand out the award for best actress in his absence. Such suspense.