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What to watch out for in the Oscars tonight

Will Saoirse get her coveted Oscar?

Saoirse Ronan on the red carpet in 2018.
Saoirse Ronan on the red carpet in 2018.
Image: UPI/PA Images

TONIGHT, THE RED carpet will be rolled out at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood to welcome the creme de la creme of the movie world. 

It’s Oscars 2020 time, baby.

Now, whether you believe that awards shows are the best way to reward great filmmakers, or a system that can be hard for independents to break into, you can’t deny the power the Oscars have.

In the 92nd year of the awards, there are many different elements this year that go to show how things have changed – the first female conductor, a streaming service producing nominated films – but also plenty that show how things need to change.

The dearth of women directors nominated, the lack of gender balance overall, and the absence of incredible high-profile films like Uncut Gems from the nominations show that there are still things people would love to change about the Oscars.

But let’s have a look at what to keep an eye on at this year’s ceremony:

Make sure to watch out for Eimear Noone

The Irish conductor and composer will be the first women to ever conduct the Oscars orchestra.

As she put it: “Little girls everywhere will see this and say, ‘I think I’ll do that.’ That’s what we want.” 

We hear she’ll be wearing an ensemble by an Irish designer too – which will make a change from black tie.

Will Saoirse win Best Actress?

It’s Saoirse’s fourth Oscar nomination (at the tender age of just 25). Her first came at the age of 13, for her role in Atonement. This latest one is for playing Jo March in Little Women – and it’s one of her strongest moments on screen yet. Will she finally get the coveted statuette?

Gold Derby puts Saoirse’s odds at 9/2, with Renee Zellweger most likely to win the award. So maybe it’s not her year – but there’s plenty more to come from her.

While we’re on the topic of women in the Oscars – it’s a good time to note that 31% of the nominees this year were women. A lot done, more to do. 

How will Netflix films do?

Netflix has 24 nominations – up from 15 in 2019 and eight in 2018. It’s clearly becoming a bigger and bigger power player, pulling in names like Martin Scorsese to work with it.

The Irishman is nominated for 10 Oscars,  but as the New York Times put it, “the film establishment has been wary of Netflix”.

The company’s chief content officer says that when it loses at awards shows, though, that doesn’t represent an uprising against the company.

The key issue with Netflix is that it doesn’t follow the traditional model of releasing, but it also has a lot of money to use on Oscar campaigns. Its campaign for Roma last year was headed up by Lisa Taback, who worked in Miramax and Oscar-winners like Spotlight, and it reaped rewards. 

This year, Netflix’s Oscar nominated films alongside The Irishman are Marriage Story, Dolemite Is My Name, The Two Popes, Klaus, I Lost My Body and American Factory (a documentary in which Barack and Michelle Obama are involved). Will it go home with a load of golden statuettes?

Parasite’s reign

No matter how many or few awards he wins, Korean director Bong Joon Ho is the hero of this year’s Oscar awards. Why?

Well, for starters, he just seems like a genial and witty chap – witness his comment about the Oscars being a very local awards ceremony. He’s not afraid to put the boot (gently) in when the situation warrants it. The 50-year-old filmmaker has also pointed out that people need to get over their fear of the subtitle, something which we could do well to pay heed to.

And then there’s the film itself, which has gone from its Palme D’Or win to become a critical darling. It’s Joon Ho’s world, and we’re just squatting in it.

He’s nominated in the Best Director category while Parasite is nominated in five other categories, including Best Foreign Language Film, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay.

How many awards will The Joker win?

It has 11 nominations – the most of any of the pack. But it’s also a film that has had its fair share of controversy this year.

Not because of the performance of Joaquin Phoenix (who might be a shoe-in for winning Best Actor in a Leading Role), but the depiction of the Joker as a man who was motivated in part by his mental health issues.

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The director, Todd Phillips, is also known for directing the Hangover movies and has spoken out against so-called ‘woke culture’. 

As he told Vanity Fair:

Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture. There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore — I’ll tell you why, because all the fucking funny guys are like, ‘Fuck this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’

Understandably, these comments didn’t go down too well in some quarters. Then there was the movie’s violence, which while not unusual did lead to fears about violent incels turning up at screenings. That’s a new one.

But Phoenix’s full-bodied transformation into the sinewy, rage-filled and face-painted Joker was an absorbing one, so no doubt he’ll be rewarded for it.

Will the predictions be correct?

It’s widely predicted that 1917 will win best picture – but there’s nothing like the bookies being completely wrong.

So all eyes will be on whether Sam Mendes’ WWI film ends up scooping him an Oscar, or if a wildcard like Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood gets it instead. 

Then there’s Renee Zellweger, who it’s widely assumed will get another award for playing Judy Garland in Judy. But could the Academy members pull a fast one and award Kathy Bates the award?

It’s her fourth Oscar nomination and would be her second win (she got her first one for playing the deadly fan in Misery).

No host

Yet again, there’s no host at the Oscars. How will the prize givers fare?

Will they provide enough entertainment or will we miss having one person guide us through the ceremony? Let’s see what the academy has in store for us.

What’s your take on this year’s Oscars? Tell us in the comments.

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