With Will Smith out of the running, who will present this year’s Best Actress award at the Oscars?
The biggest night in film is around the corner, with Jimmy Kimmel returning as host for the awards ceremony on Sunday (12 March) in Los Angeles. You can find a full list of the night’s nominees here.
It is an Academy tradition that the recipient of Best Actor from the previous year presents the Best Actress award, and vice versa. For example, 2021 winner Anthony Hopkins presented Jessica Chastain with her Best Actress trophy in 2022.
This year, Chastain – who won for her role in The Eyes of Tammy Faye – is likely to present the award for Best Actor, for which the nominees are Brendan Fraser, Austin Butler, Colin Farrell, Bill Nighy, and Paul Mescal. That is unless the Academy decide to switch things up on account of Smith.
When it comes to who will present the Best Actress award – for which Michelle Yeoh, Cate Blachett, Andrea Riseborough, Ana de Armas, and Michelle Williams are in contention – the answer is less clear.
There is an obvious hiccup – last year’s Best Actor winner, Smith, will be absent from the 2023 proceedings.
After Smith’s actions at last year’s awards show, during which he slapped host Chris Rock on stage, the King Richard star was banned for 10 years from all Academy events, including the Oscars gala.
Although a star-studded list of Oscars presenters has recently been unveiled, the Academy is yet to announce the name of Smith’s replacement.
It is not an entirely unprecedented situation, however. In 2018, Casey Affleck (the 2017 Best Actor winner for Manchester By The Sea) was due to present the award for Best Actress.
In January that year, Affleck announced that he would be withdrawing from his presenting duties after details of sexual harassment allegations against the actor came to light.
In 2010, he had settled two cases with the producer and cinematographer of his film I’m Still Here.
The allegations were made more stark given that the awards ceremony was taking place in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
In Affleck’s place, previous Best Actress winners Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster presented the award to Frances McDormand.
That same year, Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren presented the Best Actor Oscar hand-in-hand, despite the fact that it would typically have been Emma Stone doing the honours (given that she had won Best Actress in 2017). Instead, Stone presented the award for Best Director.
The Oscars have parted with tradition before. For two consecutive years – in 2009 and 2010 – the Best Actor and Best Actress categories were presented by groups of previous winners.
For example, in 2010, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Shirley Maclaine, and Sophia Loren all took to the stage to award Kate Winslet her Best Actress statuette for The Reader.
Sean Penn, meanwhile, was given his award by Robert DeNiro, Adrien Brody, Michael Douglas, and Ben Kingsley.
The Academy chose to follow the same route a year later. In 2010, Sandra Bullock was presented with her Best Actress award for The Blind Side by Michael Sheen, Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Stanley Tucci, and Peter Saarsgard.
Viewers praised the creative decision and have implored organisers to bring back the group presenters. With Smith’s absence throwing a spanner in the works, 2023 could very well be the year that they do.