Everything Everywhere All at Once, a sci-fi film from alternative studio A24, is the big favorite of Oscar night, which takes place this Sunday in Los Angeles. Given the tradition of the awards, it will be a surprise if such a title, starring an Asian family in crisis traveling through the multiverse, wins. Although in the Hollywood of the year 1 A.D. (after the Slap), surprises aren’t what they used to be. No one wants a repeat of a scare like last time, when Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett’s, alopecia. But it will also be hard for the triumph of a film as atypical as the one emerging as favorite to match last year’s shock.
For the time being, the Los Angeles weather has decided to add excitement to the event. The city, and the State of California, unaccustomed to talking about the weather, has been doing so for weeks, and this Sunday will be no exception: the rain has hindered the preparations for the event. In addition, the Academy has opted for another coup: for the first time in 62 years, the carpet that the stars will walk on will not be red, but a light coffee with milk color, or, if you prefer, champagne, which sounds more glamorous, as befits the occasion. Here is a practical guide so as not to get lost at the gala.
Three times Kimmel. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel repeats for the third time as host of the ceremony. It’s not a risky decision. Kimmel is playing at home: he hosts the late-night talk show on ABC, the Disney-owned network that airs the gala each year to a dwindling audience. 16.6 million people watched CODA (remember it?) take home the award for best picture in 2022 last year. Just five years ago, that figure was comfortably over 30 million. Variety, the Los Angeles entertainment bible, reported last Friday that the network had lowered advertising rates for advertisers as it waited to fill the slots on offer, which two days before the broadcast were still unsold.
So much you raise, so much you’re worth? Once again, the Oscars will bring to the table a debate that has entertained the film industry for years, but to which the pandemic has brought new arguments. The major studios and exhibition companies would like to see a film like Top Gun: Maverick, unanimously singled out as the one responsible for bringing moviegoers back to theaters, succeed. Despite grossing close to $1.5 billion (about 1.4 billion euros) worldwide, it is unlikely to emerge as a winner this Sunday. Also nominated is the second part of Avatar, which has reaped a box office of $2.3 billion dollars.
More modesty all around. If the reading of the tea leaves provided by the Producers, Actors, Writers and Directors Guilds, the four most powerful in Hollywood, is anything to go by, the Best Picture honor will go to Everything Everywhere All At Once, which became the first for its studio to break the $100 million barrier at the box office and is nominated for 11 statuettes. The triumph of the film directed by the Daniels (creative tandem formed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) would give Generation Z its first victory in an Academy Awards that needs to be rejuvenated to regain some of the influence lost in recent editions.
And the Oscar goes to... Generation Z. To reach these new and young audiences, the Academy has decided to strengthen its presence on social networks, with decisions such as making the clips of the award winners’ acceptance speeches in the six most important categories available to users almost simultaneously, ready to be shared on Instagram, TikTok or Facebook. Those speeches will also be immediately uploaded to Twitter.
Dueling actresses. You have to go back 21 years to find a non-white Best Actress winner. It was Halle Berry for her performance in Monster’s Ball. The long drought could come to an end this Sunday if Academy members opt for Michelle Yeoh, the star of Everything Everywhere All At Once. Her win would not come as a surprise. The Hong Kong actress, an institution in martial arts films, won the actors’ award, making her the first Asian woman to do so. Yeoh would have to beat the big favorite, Australian Cate Blanchett, who plays an orchestra conductor in Tár. Blanchett won the Bafta for her performance. Some think it works against her that she already has two other Oscars. Yeoh was not even nominated for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000).
The most open category. That’s best supporting actress. At 64 years old, Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of two movie legends like Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, has received her first nomination for playing a bitter tax office official who lives a torrid romance in one of the universes proposed by the Daniels. Stephanie Hsu is competing in the same category for the same film. So is Kerry Condon for Banshees of Inisherin. In addition, there is another veteran, Angela Bassett, an actress with an extensive career, who is nominated for the second time in her life. It’s for her role in the second installment of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Thanks to that, Marvel Studios has broken a particular record, which is what filmmaking is all about lately, ever closer to Olympianism: it’s the first time they’re up for one of the big four acting awards.
‘Sprechen sie Oscar’? Netflix, the streaming giant, totals 16 Oscar nominations. Nine come from All Quiet on the Western Front, which, despite being shot in German, is also in the running for Best Picture outright. It is based on the anti-war classic by Erich Maria Remarque, a veteran of World War I. Too much subtlety for the times? Maybe. What is certain is that few works competing this Sunday had such a powerful campaign during awards season. Netflix strongly sheltered the raw drama based in the trenches of the Great War, which is also competing as an international film. There is an unwritten rule in Hollywood that when a film repeats in both categories, it takes the second, as a consolation prize. If so, it would defeat the Golden Globe winner, Santiago Mitre’s remarkable Argentina, 1985, starring Ricardo Darín and supported by Amazon.
A third for Del Toro? The Mexican director competes for best animated film with his version of Pinocchio. Guillermo del Toro has pointed out that this is one of his most personal works in his filmography, despite the fact that it is an adaptation of the classic by Italian Carlo Collodi from the late 18th century. “It is not a film for children, but it is a film that children can see,” said the filmmaker, who uses the wooden puppet to reflect on parenthood. If he triumphs on Sunday, the director will add three statuettes after the two he won in 2018 with The Shape of Water. But his triumph will not be easy. Also competing is Red, from Pixar, always a favorite in this category. In his favor, the Mexican has that his film, produced by Netflix, is made with the stop motion technique, which is already considered a craft in the times of computer animation.
Female gaze. This edition has received criticism because no woman opts for best director. There is, however, one category, one of those that go unnoticed, best photography, which is also one of the areas that have most resisted equality. It wasn’t until 2018 that a woman, Rachel Morrison for Mudbound, snuck into the nominations. But no woman has won yet. This year Mandy Walker, who photographed Elvis, is among the favorites. Walker won the cinematographer’s guild award, becoming the first to win the recognition in the award’s 37 years. This Sunday she is up against legends like Roger Deakins, who already has two statuettes, and up-and-coming talents like James Friend, for his work in the mud of the trenches in All Quiet on the Western Front.
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