Oscars 2024: Who’s hosting, favorites to win and how to watch

Oscars 2024: Who’s hosting, favorites to win and how to watch

A year after the multiversal romp “Everything Everywhere All at Once” posted one of the most impressive Academy Award performances of all time — winning seven prizes, including best picture, and becoming the first movie since 1976’s “Network” to claim three acting trophies — the 2024 ceremony arrives with another film on the verge of historic Oscars dominance.

Boasting a whopping 13 nominations, imposing box office credentials and a pristine awards-season track record, Christopher Nolan’s sprawling biopic “Oppenheimer” appears all but certain to not just take best picture but also challenge Oscars history, with the record for the most wins — 11, held by “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” — not out of the question.

Whatever happens, more viewers should be awake to see it all play out this time around: The 96th Academy Awards will begin an hour earlier than in recent years, with the ABC broadcast set for 7 p.m. Eastern time Sunday.

Will the earlier start boost lagging ratings? Can “Oppenheimer” cap its steamrolling awards season with an Oscars coronation? Or could an underdog like “Barbie,” “Poor Things” or “Killers of the Flower Moon” swoop in for an unthinkable upset? While we ponder those questions, here’s a rundown of what we know about the 2024 Academy Awards.

When and where are the Oscars happening?

Although the past four Oscars ceremonies began at 8 p.m. — after years of 8:30 p.m. starts — this year’s show will kick off at 7 p.m. Eastern time Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and lead into a new episode of “Abbott Elementary” around 10:30 p.m. (At least, that’s the plan for an awards show with a habit of running long.)

The ceremony will be broadcast on ABC and streamed on ABC.com, the ABC app, Hulu Live TV, YouTube TV, AT&T TV and FuboTV. And the Oscars will again unfold at the Dolby Theatre, which has hosted every ceremony since 2002 (with the exception of the scaled-down 2021 show, which was held at Los Angeles’s Union Station because of the pandemic).

ABC went back to a pair of steady hands in Jimmy Kimmel, who was tapped to host for the second straight year and fourth time since 2017. Kimmel’s gentle ribbing and everyman enthusiasm has made him a solid if safe emcee in recent years, during which the Academy also opted for host-free broadcasts from 2019 to 2021 and the trio of Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall in 2022.

Kimmel will join Whoopi Goldberg and Jack Lemmon as the only four-time Academy Awards hosts. It’s rarefied company: Only Johnny Carson (five), Billy Crystal (nine) and Bob Hope (19) have hosted more ceremonies.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Kimmel said he had no intention of returning as host after his first two go-rounds. But the popularity of best picture nominee “Top Gun: Maverick” convinced him to return last year before another blockbuster with awards pedigree rolled into theaters this past summer.

“I knew there was a movie that people had seen, and it just makes the job easier,” he said of “Maverick.” “Then this year, I am sitting in a movie theater watching ‘Barbie’ and thinking, ‘Well, maybe I’ll do this again, because at least I have a point of reference with everyone.’”

How are the nominees chosen? Who votes?

The Oscar nominations are mostly chosen by members of each category’s corresponding branch of the Academy. Actors nominate actors, directors nominate directors and so on. The most notable exception is best picture, whose nominees are decided by all voting members of the academy.

The full membership — around 11,000 people — then decides the winners in all 23 categories. (In 2026, that number will increase to 24 with the introduction of best casting.) For 22 of those awards, the nominee with the most votes wins. But best picture is again the exception: The night’s biggest prize is decided via a preferential ballot in which voters rank the nominees. If no movie earns more than 50 percent of the first-place votes, the film sitting in last place is eliminated. The No. 2 movie on any ballot listing the eliminated movie at No. 1 then earns that ballot’s vote. The process repeats, eliminating the movie with the fewest votes, until one film has a majority.

Which films are the front-runners for best picture?

“Oppenheimer,” Nolan’s foreboding portrait of the atomic bomb’s architect, has grossed nearly $1 billion at the global box office and won the top prize at every prominent Oscars precursor: the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards, the British Academy Film Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Directors Guild of America Awards and the Producers Guild of America Awards. All four films to have completed that sweep since the SAG Awards and Critics Choice Awards were introduced in the mid-1990s — 1999’s “American Beauty,” 2003’s “The Return of the King,” 2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire” and 2012’s “Argo” — went on to win the best picture Oscar. (Nolan, who has never won an Academy Award, also looks like a lock for best director.)

On paper, “Poor Things” has the best shot at scoring an unprecedented upset: Yorgos Lanthimos’s fantastical tale of a Frankensteinian woman’s sexual awakening finished second with 11 Oscar nominations and won best picture (musical or comedy) at the Golden Globes. “Anatomy of a Fall” also looks like a dark-horse contender after landing nominations in the bellwether categories of director, editing, lead actress and original screenplay.

Although nominations morning was kind to “Killers of the Flower Moon” (10 nods), Martin Scorsese’s fact-based depiction of the Osage Murders, a snub in the adapted screenplay category doesn’t bode well for its best picture odds. A similar perception surrounds “Barbie” (eight nominations) after the patriarchy-piercing phenomenon failed to earn nominations for Greta Gerwig in the director category and Margot Robbie in lead actress. And the same goes for the 1970s-set dramedy “The Holdovers” (five nominations), which also grabbed nods for original screenplay, lead actor, supporting actress and editing but didn’t land one for director Alexander Payne. In a boost to its campaign, however, “The Holdovers” beat “Poor Things” and “Barbie” for best edited comedy at the American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards last weekend.

Who are the acting award front-runners?

The races for supporting actor and actress appear to be done and dusted: Robert Downey Jr. has won every major precursor for playing the duplicitous “Oppenheimer” bureaucrat Lewis Strauss, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph has done the same for her wrenching performance as a grieving mother in “The Holdovers.”

Lead actor, on the other hand, looked like a compelling race after Paul Giamati won the Critics Choice Award for his role as a cantankerous academic in “The Holdovers,” Cillian Murphy took the BAFTA for playing the titular physicist in “Oppenheimer” and the actors both won at the Golden Globes (Giamatti for musical or comedy, Murphy for drama). But Murphy’s best actor win at the SAG Awards cemented his front-runner status.

That brings us to the Oscars’ most compelling duel: lead actress. Emma Stone’s virtuoso “Poor Things” turn, as a woman rediscovering life after being brought back from death, earned her a Critics Choice Award and a BAFTA. As Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman wrecked by an unspeakable betrayal, “Killers of the Flower Moon” star Lily Gladstone edged Stone at the SAG Awards. And, like Giamatti and Murphy, the actresses both won at the Golden Globes.

While most of the Oscars’ top categories seem preordained, best actress looks like a genuine toss-up. Should Gladstone triumph, she would be the first Indigenous person to win an acting Oscar.

What are the other races to watch?

Wins at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs have positioned “Anatomy of a Fall” as the original screenplay front-runner, while “American Fiction” seems poised to take adapted screenplay following victories at the Critics Choice Awards, BAFTAs and Film Independent Spirit Awards. But the writers strike postponed the Writers Guild Awards until April, taking a telling precursor off the table. And then there’s the “Barbie” factor: Gerwig and husband Noah Baumbach’s much-lauded script was nominated in the Oscars’ adapted screenplay category despite competing in original screenplay the rest of awards season, making both races trickier to predict.

Animated feature also serves up a coin flip of a competition: Hayao Miyazaki’s idiosyncratic send-off “The Boy and the Heron” (which won at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs) vs. the stylish sequel “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (which emerged victorious at the Critics Choice Awards, Annie Awards and Producers Guild Awards). There’s also a compelling narrative surrounding the live-action short category, where beloved auteur Wes Anderson could win his first Oscar for the Roald Dahl adaptation “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.”

Where can I watch the best picture nominees?

Most of the best picture nominees are already included with subscription streaming services: “Oppenheimer” and “The Holdovers” are on Peacock, “Barbie” is on Max, “Killers of the Flower Moon” is on Apple TV Plus, “Past Lives” is on Paramount Plus, “Poor Things” is on Hulu, and “Maestro” is on Netflix.

The rest — “American Fiction,” “Anatomy of a Fall” and “The Zone of Interest” — are in theaters or available to rent via services such as YouTube, Vudu, Apple TV, Google Play and Prime Video.

Will there be musical performances?

The academy confirmed that audiences will see live renditions of all five best song nominees: Jon Batiste will perform “It Never Went Away” from “American Symphony”; Becky G will perform “The Fire Inside” from “Flamin’ Hot”; Scott George and the Osage Singers will perform “Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)” from “Killers of the Flower Moon”; Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell will perform “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie”; and Mark Ronson and Ryan Gosling will perform “I’m Just Ken” from “Barbie.”

Actors Vanessa Hudgens and Julianne Hough will host “The Oscars Red Carpet Show,” which begins at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time on ABC. Hudgens will be hosting ABC’s official pre-show for the third straight year, while Hough will be making her debut in the role (though she did co-host the Tony Awards’ pre-show the past two years.) Earlier, ABC News anchors Linsey Davis and Whit Johnson will host “Countdown to Oscars: On the Red Carpet Live!” from 1 to 4 p.m.

Over on E!, the network’s “Brunch at the Oscars” will kick off at 2 p.m. before the red carpet show at 4.

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