LOS ANGELES — It’s almost time to give the Academy Awards a big hand.
OK, maybe we should rephrase that.
A year after Will Smith took the stage at the Dolby Theater and slapped Chris Rock in the face, the Oscars will reunite on Sunday for a ceremony that will attempt to transcend one of the most infamous moments in Academy Awards history.
Dolby’s Los Angeles broadcast begins at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC. The show can be streamed with a subscription to Hulu Live TV, YouTubeTV, AT&T TV and Fubo TV. You can also stream the show on ABC.com and the ABC app by authenticating your provider.
Jimmy Kimmel, the show’s first solo host in five years, is hosting for the third time. The late-night comedian has promised to crack a few jokes about The Slap; it would be “ridiculous” not to do it, he said.
Bill Kramer, executive director of the film academy, said it was important given the events of the last year “to have a host who can really shoot and manage those moments”.
“Nobody got hit while I was hosting the show,” Kimmel boasted with a wink on Good Morning America Thursday.
Kimmel will officiate a ceremony where the best movie favorite, Everything Everywhere All at Once, could win big. The action comedy indie hit from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert comes with 11 leading nominations including Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan.
The producers are giving some aspects of the Oscars a makeover. The carpet is champagne colored, not red. The show should be more interactive than ever.
But the academy, still trying to find its feet after several years of pandemic and ratings battles, is also hoping for a smoother ride than last year. In order to be able to react better to surprises, a crisis team was set up. The academy has called its response to Smith’s actions “inadequate” over the past year. Neither Rock, who recently made his most powerful statement on the incident in a live special, nor Smith, who has been banned from the academy for 10 years, are expected to be present.
The Academy Awards will instead attempt to recapture some of its former glory. One thing speaks for it: This year’s best picture field is peppered with blockbusters. Ratings usually go up when the nominees are more popular, which is certainly true of Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, and to a lesser extent Elvis and Everything Everywhere All at Once.
But the groundbreaking contender that could do well in the technical categories — where bigger films often dominate — is Netflix’s top contender this year: German WWI epic All Quiet on the Western Front. There are nine awards at stake, the second most with Irish dark comedy The Banshees of Inisherin. Netflix’s Guillermo del Toros Pinocchio also looks like a shoo-in for best animated feature.
The awards will also have some star performances in the musical performances. Fresh from her Super Bowl performance, Rihanna will perform her Oscar-nominated song “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. “This Is Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is sung by David Byrne and supporting actress nominee Stephanie Hsu with the band Son Lux. Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava will perform “Naatu Naatu” from the Indian action epic RRR. Lenny Kravitz will perform during the In Memoriam tributes. (Lady Gaga, who is currently in production on a film, will not perform her nominated song “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick.)
Last year, Apple TV’s “CODA” became the first streaming movie to win the Best Picture award. But this year, nine of the 10 nominees for best picture were theatrical releases. After film sales slumped during the pandemic, cinema admissions rebounded to about 67% of pre-pandemic levels. But it’s been a year of ups and downs, full of hits and scary breaks in theaters.
At the same time, the rush to stream met fresh setbacks as studios questioned long-term viability and reviewed their publishing strategies. Ticket sales were strong that year thanks to releases like Creed III and Cocaine Bear. But storm clouds remain on the horizon. The Writers Guild and major studios are expected to begin contract negotiations on March 20, a looming battle with much of the industry bracing around the possibility of a walkout in film and television.
The Oscars, meanwhile, are attempting to reestablish their position as the premier awards show. Last year’s show attracted 16.6 million viewers, a 58% increase over the scaled-down 2021 edition, which was watched from a record low of 10.5 million.
Usually, the previous year’s drama winners present the awards for best actor and best actress. But that won’t be the case this time. Who will replace Smith in the Best Actress presentation is just one of the questions that goes into the awards ceremony.
Follow AP film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
For more information on this year’s Academy Awards, visit: https://apnews.com/hub/academy-awards