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What to Expect From The 91st Oscar Ceremony?

A dive into the 5 most important things to look out for in the 2019 Academy Awards

The Academy Awards, better known by many as the Oscars, is a movie award ceremony where the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences- a diversified rank of individuals who work in the movie scene - vote to recognize the best in 24 different categories each year. The Oscars approach its 91st year this Sunday the 24th at 22:00 GMT-3 (BRT time zone) and will honor the most accomplished 2018 motion pictures, actors, actresses, directors and many more. And as most of the previous iterations, the 2019 rendition will certainly present unique attributes that are relevant to be kept in mind before and while viewing the show. So here is a list of what to know before watching the 91st Academy Awards:

No Hosts

After movie star and comedian Kevin Hart decided to step down from hosting the award show, the Academy decided to give a little breathing time to the host motif and use only A-lister actors to present each segment.

Hart stepped down since he was not willing to directly apologize to homophobic tweets and comments from nearly 10 years ago, an action the Academy most certainly asked him to perform in the case he wanted to keep his host status. In a video he posted on Twitter addressing this, Hart states: “If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to hold people in a position where they always have to justify the past, do you. I’m the wrong guy, man”. Many individuals were not satisfied with this answer and have been since demanding a sincere apology from the comedian. He has since said sorry multiple times, but it appears not everyone is buying it. He has addressed this an interview with Ellen Degeneres.

After the fallout, the Academy was not short of options. Many moviegoers loved the Tiffany Haddish and Maia Rudolph presentation from last year Oscars and would enjoy having them hosting. Others felt Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele would be a good duo. But they were not selected. There will be no host. However, if you think this is the first time such an idea was put in place, you would be wrong. The no-host deal happened once 30 years ago in 1989. This year is noticeable because of the Snow White singing fiasco. Adding this to the idea that the hosts are the ones to hold more audiences, the Oscars may face some problems this Sunday. Nevertheless, the 2019 ceremony will be the second in the Academy Awards history to not feature a host, something pretty unique. Let’s hope the show can overcome this.

A Close Call

If the no-host deal becomes a fiasco, at least the competition between nominees can entertain the audiences the whole night. The 91st Oscars will not be easy to predict.

With movies like Green Book, The Favourite, A Star is Born, and Roma, the run for the best picture is super tight with excellent films. Green Book rocks with how it addresses the relationship between pianist Don Shirley and Tony Lip and writes a beautiful message about how to change the hearts of people towards African-Americans with music. The Favourite (sorry kids, but this movie is not for your) surprises with a mild-accurate depiction of Queen Anne and enchants with its inherent weirdness. A Star is Born paves the way to a fresh interpretation of an old classic and gives light to unforeseen talents from the Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper duo. And Roma can be a tough movie to follow through, but it is a cinematic beauty and a well-crafted tribute to Mexico.

But not only the best picture is in a head to head race. The actress in a leading role category has strong contenders too as three of the five have been heavily prized by the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards before. Lady Gaga’s talent (A Star is Born) is going face to face with Glenn Close’s vivid and heart-wrenching portrayal of a wife with a secret (The Wife) and Olivia Colman’s hysterical and emotionally unstable queen haunted by trauma (The Favourite). Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) and Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) are great in their movies, but won’t be able to top the star, the queen, and the wife. In total, the ceremony will be more interesting to watch since there is no clear winner between many categories, including best picture and actress in a leading role, and most of the nominees are so great to the extent that it is tricky to find a favorite.

Popular Vibe

On the topic of the contestants one more time, it is relevant to point out how the selection of nominees has given a new feel to the 2019 Oscars. This year owns a very balanced movie selection with both more popular and more indie pictures together.

With the addition of 928 members from a variety of ages, genders and “skin colors” in June of 2018, the Academy has expanded its views of what is worth being considered an Oscar movie. It also tried to add an Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film award to obtain more viewers in August, showing the Academy was thinking about recognizing BlockBuster movies for some change. This last point backfired since almost everyone who worries about the Academy Awards also cares about a popular movie being included in the best picture category instead of its own. It felt very impersonal and rude to consider Black Panther, for example, as less than any other best picture nominees. So, after this slip, Black Panther is now a candidate to be the best movie of the year. Another movie that got a prestigious sit in this category was Bohemian Rhapsody, a film that presents a Freddie Mercury crowd pleaser bio pick, which fans felt was a proper tribute and many critics felt was unoriginal and too safe. And of course, A Star is Born proved that a movie with Lady Gaga and a song about looking good in jeans can be both pop and critically acclaimed.

On the other hand, more artistic movies that appeal to only some movie fans are also present at the 2019 Oscars. Vice, The Wife, The Favourite, and If Beale Street Could Talk are a few examples, all nominated for more than one award and produced by either a small studio or with a modest budget. Finally, it is all changing for the better.

First Timers and Superheroes

Hanging on to Black Panther, A Star is Born and sprinkling a little bit more of Roma, why not talk about the first times and how groundbreaking 2019 will be for the Academy Awards.

Fans of superhero movies rejoice and celebrate. Black Panther is the first superhero film to be nominated for best picture. Not even The Dark Knight did it, being nominated only for best actor in a supporting role (Heath Ledger as the Joker). Black Panther opened up so many opportunities for diversity in the movie scene. It is one of the most prominent box offices of Marvel Studios, the third highest grossing film of all time, the number one highest grossing Marvel movie in the US, and so much more. It is the only superhero movie to have a full acting cast composed of African Americans. This film deserves a standing ovation. Continuing the superhero train, Spiderman Into the Spider Verse - one of the most beautiful and eye-pleasing animations you will ever see in your life- is competing for the best animated movie category, marking 2019 as the best year for superheroes in the Oscar.

Going back to the groundbreaking, two women should enter the spotlight. Lady Gaga and Yalitza Aparicio are making history in 2019. The former is the first person to be ever nominated for both original song and actress in a leading role. Lady Gaga helped compose Shallows for A Star is Born and also leads it. And the later is the first indigenous woman to be nominated for the leading actress role. She was once a preschool teacher that decided to audition for Roma as her sister was invited but couldn’t go because of a pregnancy. The director Alfonso Cuarón saw her acting and loved her portrayal of Cleo, the caretaker of a family that lived the district of Roma, Mexico City. The “first timers” are centerpieces in distinguishing the 91st Academy Awards and they make it even more special.

Netflix and The Most Nominated Movies

And finally, Netflix is at last accepted by Hollywood and the Academy as being a movie producer, even if it is a direct competitor of the traditional way of watching movies in theaters.

I have already mentioned Roma once or twice, but I haven’t told you that it was produced by Netflix and has garnered 10 nominations, only on par with The Favourite’s other 10. Together with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ other 3 and two more coming from short documentaries, Netflix now has more than 13 nominations on the 2019’s Oscars. It is a big jump from being nominated a few times for documentary features films like Icarus, to then being selected 13 times plus two for other documentary shorts. And it is even a bigger surprise considering the struggle between Hollywood and the streaming giant. Netflix has a business model of a direct-to-consumer strategy where products and services are given directly to the consumer, in this case through a Netflix digital hub on smartphones, laptops and other technological devices. In the other hand, studios in Hollywood like Disney and Warner Bros., sell their movies first to a theater to be screened, and then either to retailers so they can sell DVDs, or to streaming services. Since Netflix movies can be watched in the comfort of a house or anywhere with a screen, it is much easier and less expensive to enjoy a film. This creates a prominent box office issue for studios as they may lose a screenplay/movie idea that can make them money, more profit when the movie goes to a streaming service, and audiences as anyone can decide to wait instead of watching a movie in the theaters. Because of these, many journalists and producers have stated that Netflix is a company whose streaming model is destroying the traditional film business.

Thus, the Academy granting Netflix and Roma a spot at the best picture category and other 14 nominations is a representation of a shift in the competitive nature of their relationship and the last attribute that makes the 91st Academy Awards stand out this year.

If you want to know all of the nominees, click here.


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