After all the endless analysis, rejiggering of rankings, highly contentious debates over the difference between sound mixing and sound editing, after all the outrage, backlash, backlash to the backlash, re-backlash, un-backlash, #blacklash, and backlash whiplash, after all the mispronunciations of Saoirse Ronan’s first name (it rhymes with “inertia”), the Oscars are nearly upon us. And as much as we like to anticipate and predict, when the telecast gets rolling and the awards start flying, all that matters is the name on the envelope. Vegas odds don’t mean peanuts in the face of what actually happens, and nobody will know until the seal is broken.
But there are still enough constants and pre-announced certainties that we can still prepare for the telecast to some extent. Below, take a look at our preview of what to expect when Chris Rock takes the stage at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater for the 88th Academy Awards. (Hope you remembered to bring your gown to the cleaners.)
After delivering a strong, entertaining showing with the Oscar hosting duties in 2005, Chris Rock will return for a second stint on the Academy stage. For his fleet of presenters, AMPAS has corralled J.J. Abrams, Abraham Attah, Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Steve Carell, Henry Cavill, Priyanka Chopra, Louis C.K., Sacha Baron Cohen, Common, Russell Crowe, Benicio Del Toro, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Garner, Whoopi Goldberg, Ryan Gosling, Louis Gossett, Jr., Kevin Hart, Quincy Jones, Byung-hun Lee, John Legend, Jared Leto, Rachel McAdams, Julianne Moore, Dev Patel, Eddie Redmayne, Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, Andy Serkis, Sarah Silverman, Charlize Theron, Jacob Tremblay, Sofia Vergara, Kerry Washington, Pharrell Williams, and Reese Witherspoon. Olivia Munn and Jason Segel will be on the scene to report on their presenter duties at the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement.
As last year’s winners, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons, Julianne Moore, and Eddie Redmayne will hand out the awards for Best Supporting Actor/Actress and Best Actor/Actress, respectively. The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, and Sam Smith will all be on hand to perform their Best Original Song nominees, while fellow nominees ANOHNI and Sumi Jo will, egregiously, not. Dave Grohl will perform, too. Why? Who knows! Chris Rock, as mentioned above, will host. The Lifetime Achievement Awards, already handed out, will go to actress Gena Rowlands and filmmaker Spike Lee, who has given attendance to this year’s festivities a hard pass, bringing us to…
The Vibe Of The Night
Hollywood’s currently in the middle of a full-blown crisis of diversity, the Oscars’ all-white slate of major nominees having catalyzed a top-to-bottom inspection of the gross homogeneity pervasive in the industry. Every day seems to bring another shocking exposé of just how difficult it is to catch a break in showbiz for anyone who isn’t a straight white guy. And there’s no doubt that Rock’s monologue is going to tear into the issue for all it’s worth, because he’s come right out and confirmed as much. He’s a vital counterpoint the vast, rolling ocean of whiteness that will make up the audience at the Dolby, and the Oscar producers are hoping that the righteous truth he will undoubtedly spit might save a little bit of face.
Expect some easy jokes about Leo DiCaprio’s cartoonishly difficult production process on The Revenant (take four shots in quick succession when anyone says the words “bison liver”), and some poor soul might even take on the fraught task of making a joke about Eddie Redmayne’s gender-bending The Danish Girl performance that is funny without being horrifically offensive. And then, of course…
Our own Jen Chaney is all over it like you don’t even know. She’s been all over it. We’ll also be offering a conversation with thoughts from Vince Mancini, Mike Ryan, and Keith Phipps later today. And then be sure to visit the site on Sunday for live coverage and an ongoing discussion of the awards that you can join in.