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It has been a tough year for the Academy Awards. First, it announced the introduction of the Popular Film category, only to scrap it. Then there is the whole host debacle, which leads to the event being host-less.
The 91st Academy Awards is a tough fight between Roma and The Favourite, but its biggest fight may be with itself. Here’s all you need to know about the Oscars 2019.
1. There Will Be No Host
Kevin Hart was supposed to be the host at this year’s awards, but someone had to drag up seemingly tasteless tweets he put up from eons ago, causing a big hoo-ha that ultimately forced Hart to step down from his hosting duties. Suggestions for replacement hosts started popping up, such as Awkwafina, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph, Dwayne Johnson, or even bringing back Ellen or Hugh Jackman. However, as Hart’s departure is too close to show time, the Academy decides to go ahead without a host! Its big plan was to gather enough star power to be presenters. So don’t expect any witty or funny monologue from the host at the beginning. There will be none!
2. Any Other Changes to the Format?
This year, apart from not having a host, there were more changes to the format. The plan was to have the awards shorter, less than three hours. The smaller awards were to be handed out during commercial breaks, meaning the audiences don’t see people who aren’t famous going up on stage to receive their awards. However, after protests from Hollywood filmmakers and actors, the Academy JUST reversed its decision and will now air all 24 categories. The combined power of directors including Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese and actors Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Seth Rogen and more did the trick. There were also plans to only showcase two out of the five Best Original Song nominees. Thankfully, the Academy again stepped back and revised this to featuring all five. And get this, Bette Midler will take the stage to perform Mary Poppins Returns!
3. Popular Film Controversy
In August 2018, the Academy announced a new category, called Achievement in Popular Film, which immediately prompted criticism from fans and the industry. The decision was vague, and many think the category which seems tailored for blockbusters undermines what the Oscars is all about. Then one month later, the Academy released a statement saying, “The Academy recognized that implementing any new award nine months into the year creates challenges for films that have already been released,” and promptly scrapped the idea.
4. Breaking New Grounds
For the first time ever, a superhero movie (Black Panther) is added to the Best Picture list. And not just any superhero movie, but one that is culturally representative. Also, Alfonso Cuaron's Roma is some sort of phenomenon. It’s the second foreign language movie that’s nominated with the most number of Oscars, tying with Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).
5. It’s All About Inclusion
There’s been an awakening in recent years, about Black actors not being recognised, or women not being paid equally as men. To be all inclusive, this year, 928 new members have joined the Academy to add diversity to the predominantly male membership. We can only expect to see more female representation in future Oscars.
Remember, the 91st Academy Awards will be on 24 February (Sunday), and expect to see a star-studded lineup including Jennifer Lopez, Awkwafina, Chris Evans, Whoopi Goldberg, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Emilia Clarke, Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Jason Momoa, Sarah Paulson and many more!