5 Mar 2018

Oscars 2018: What to expect from this year's ceremony

6:42 am on 5 March 2018

The Oscars are taking place later today, in the shadow of the sexual assault scandal that has rocked the industry in recent months.

A scene from Oscar frontrunner The Shape of Water

A scene from Oscar frontrunner The Shape of Water Photo: Fox Searchlight

Hollywood's biggest stars will gather on Sunday evening at the Dolby Theatre for the 90th Academy Awards.

But a spotlight will be shone too on the issues that have transformed the film world, symbolised by the Time's Up movement.

The Shape of Water leads the field with 13 nominations.

Jimmy Kimmel is taking on hosting duties for the second year in a row, having coped admirably with the envelope mix-up that saw La La Land accidentally named best picture last year instead of Moonlight.

He's expected to address politics during the show but there's bound to be room for a couple of jokes at the expense of his A-list friends like Matt Damon.

The chat show host also hasn't ruled out a return to the stage for Warren Beatty, who was the best picture presenter - alongside Faye Dunaway - last year.

However, Kimmel has already told ABC he won't reference Me Too and Time's Up because he doesn't want the show to be about "reliving people's sexual assaults".

But it may be that Time's Up dominates the conversation both on the red carpet and in the winners' speeches anyway, with Hollywood having seen a seismic shift.


Organisers will be keen to avoid the envelope mix-up that saw La La Land accidentally named best picture last year instead of Moonlight. Photo: AFP

During the show there will be performances from each best song nominee, including the American singer of Māori descent, Keala Settle, who will perform the hit song 'This Is Me' from The Greatest Showman.

Also representing New Zealand in Hollywood is Weta Digital, which has received two nominations for best visual effects for its work on War for the Planet of the Apes, and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2.

Guillermo del Toro is tipped to take the best director prize for his otherworldly romance The Shape of Water, starring British actress Sally Hawkins as a mute janitor who falls in love with an amphibious man.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is highly tipped to take home the night's top prize - best picture.

Others nominees include Get Out, the horror film starring Skins' actor Daniel Kaluuya, and Christopher Nolan's war epic Dunkirk.

Kaluuya is also nominated in the best actor category - against fellow Brit Gary Oldman, for his transformation into wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

Three Billboards' lead Frances McDormand, who stars as a grieving mother determined to avenge her teenage daughter's brutal death, is widely expected to be named best actress. She's already won that accolade at the Golden Globes and the Baftas.

However, she faces competition from three-time winner Meryl Streep for The Post, as well as Saoirse Ronan for her role in Lady Bird as Christine, a teenager on the cusp of adulthood.

The best supporting actress Oscar seems sewn up, thanks to Allison Janney's portrayal of skating champion Tonya Harding's cold-as-ice mother. The West Wing star told the BBC she found playing the part of the embittered, uncaring LaVona Golden to be "liberating".

Laurie Metcalf has been praised too though, for her realistic portrayal of Lady Bird's mother. The film is Greta Gerwig's first as director and has seen her become only the fifth woman to be nominated for best director.

After the ceremony, stars will flock to the Governor's Ball - with the lucky few clutching Oscars able to get them engraved there - or other parties including the star-studded one hosted by Vanity Fair.

This year, it seems there'll be much more to talk about at the after parties other than just envelopes.

* Charlotte Graham-McLay and Max Towle will be liveblogging the Oscars for rnz.co.nz from Park Road Post from midday this afternoon.