Speculation is rife as to who will walk away with the top prizes at the Oscars tonight.
Always an eventful evening, the Academy Awards never fails to provide talking points and 2017’s Best Picture mix-up between Moonlight and La La Land remains one of the all-time great moments in black-tie farce.
Having said that, this year the controversy kicked off early when Kevin Hart was appointed and then fired as host after a number of old tweets resurfaced in which the comedian expressed homophobic views, leaving 2019’s ceremony without a compere for the first time in 30 years.
When is the 2019 Academy Awards ceremony and how can I watch it?
The 91st Academy Awards will be held on 24 February 2019 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.
The evening will be broadcast live on ABC in the US and on NOW TV and Sky in the UK. The Independent’s Culture team will be liveblogging the night on our site.
Following the Hart debacle, the Academy will opt for a selection of more dependable stars delivering viral-friendly skits instead of a recognised master of ceremonies.
The first batch of awards presenters has now been announced. Jennifer Lopez, Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Brie Larson, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Charlize Theron, Tessa Thompson and Constance Wu will be handing out the statuettes.
The show is also expected to focus on what has been a strong year for music in film, with Best Actress hopeful Lady Gaga down to perform “Shallow” from the third remake of A Star is Born with director and co-star Bradley Cooper.
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings will perform “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from the Coen Brothers’s The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Jennifer Hudson will sing “I’ll Fight” from the documentary RBG.
Producer Donna Gigliotti and director Glenn Weiss have meanwhile been tasked with bringing off a leaner show this time around, running under three hours for the first time since 1973.
To achieve this, some of the lower-profile awards will be handed out while the broadcast is in commercial breaks, saving almost an hour after 2018’s telecast staggered on for a gruelling three hours and 53 minutes.
Which films have been nominated for the top prizes?
Yorgos Lanthimos’s period drama The Favourite and Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma secured 10 nominations each.
Both films are have been shortlisted for the prestigious Best Picture award, along with Black Panther (a popular choice), BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book, A Star is Born and Vice.
The Favourite‘s Olivia Colman is in pole position to land Best Actress for her superb performance as Queen Anne while co-stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone will continue their ficitonal rivalry in the Best Supporting Actress category.
Christian Bale is hotly-tipped to win Best Actor for his role as former vice-president Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s satire while the Best Supporting Actor category drew contrasting responses from a delighted Richard E Grant and a very droll Sam Elliott (“It’s about f***ing time”).
The Academy has been criticised for again failing to list a female filmmaker in the Best Director category while fans of Timothee Chalamet were disappointed his performance as a drug addict in Felix Van Groeningen’s Beautfiul Boy was overlooked.
What happened to the Best Popular Film category?
The new award was announced in August but withdrawn a month later on the strength of the hostile reception it received.
Critics and fans argued the category would be used as a means of sidelining crowd-pleasing blockbusters like Black Panther, keeping Best Film free for the “prestige” pictures that usually dominate.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has said it “will examine and seek additional input regarding the new category” and has not ruled out its future revival.
How has Academy membership changed?
The Academy announced in June 2018 it had invited 928 new members of the filmmaking profession to join its ranks.
Part of a new initiative commenced under former Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the measure is intended to address the shocking revelation in 2016 that 92 per cent of membership was white and 75 per cent male.
Invitations were extended to actors including Amy Schumer, Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Chappelle, Sarah Silverman and Jada Pinkett Smith as well as a host technicians, directors and executives in a bid to improve diversity and offer a broader representation of opinion.