Achieving a delicate balance.
But then The New York Times and The New Yorker disclosed allegations of decades of sexual harassment and assault against Harvey Weinstein — the powerful producer and Academy Awards tour de force — roiling the entertainment business and setting off the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. (Mr. Weinstein has denied ever having had “nonconsensual sex.”) Now the Oscars, designed as a big commercial for Hollywood glamour, will have to address the systemic problem of sexual harassment in show business.
“We think we’ve figured out a way to do it all,” Jennifer Todd, one of the lead producers for the ceremony, said in a recent interview.
In other words, the show must go on.
Three Weinstein accusers may speak out.
Will Time’s Up, the anti-sexual harassment initiative that dominated the Golden Globes and saw everyone there donning black, pull a trick or two out of its hat?
Several women deeply involved with Time’s Up, including Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes, explained why there were no overt displays from the group on the red carpet. .
“We are not an awards show protest group,” Ms. DuVernay said at a meeting with a small group of reporters last week. “We made a conscious choice not to do that again.”
Viewers wondered if a celebrity would turn the questions around on Ryan Seacrest, the host of E!’s red carpet coverage. He has been accused of sexual harassment, claims he and his network, backed by a third-party investigation, have vigorously denied. But no such confrontation was broadcast, and he did not address the accusations. His interviews with celebrities stuck to the typical fare of fashion and film. There were no immediate indications that celebrities were bypassing him for interviews.
In the two months since Times Up’s officially began, the group has amassed $21 million for its legal defense fund and, said Tina Tchen, a lawyer heading that initiative, has fielded 1,700 requests for assistance from landscapers, government workers, police officers, prison guards, and hotel and catering workers. (Some 1,250 have been connected with lawyers.) A sister initiative has sprung up in Britain, a group of male allies has formed, a partnership with StoryCorps, the story-collecting organization, has been forged, and the process of making the group a nonprofit foundation has begun. “We are global at this point,” Ms. Rhimes said.
Still, at least one “moment,” they said, has been planned for the show. This possibly might involve three Harvey Weinstein accusers: Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek, who are all scheduled to be presenters.
In another example of the #MeToo effect, Casey Affleck, last year’s best actor winner, will be notably absent from the proceedings. He backed out after the clamor about two sexual harassment claims he had settled years ago grew too loud: Jennifer Lawrence and Jodie Foster are reportedly going to present the best actress Oscar in his stead.
Prepare to stay up late.
Last year’s show ran 3 hours 49 minutes, with the most dramatic moment coming right at the end, when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty mistakenly presented the best-picture trophy to “La La Land” instead of “Moonlight” after a PwC accountant handed them the wrong envelope. Ms. Dunaway and Mr. Beatty are scheduled to return to present the best picture Oscar. Not returning: Brian Cullinan and Martha L. Ruiz, the PwC accountants responsible for last year’s bungle.
A handful of firsts.
Academy insiders believe that aggressive efforts to diversify the organization’s overwhelmingly white and male membership are starting to have an impact on its signature awards. For the first time in 90 years, a woman, Rachel Morrison, was nominated for best cinematographer. She was singled out for her work on “Mudbound,” which was directed and co-written by Dee Rees. Ms. Rees received a nomination for best adapted screenplay (written with Virgil Williams), making her the first black woman ever recognized in that category.
Some races provide little suspense.
Frances McDormand was favored to win her second Academy Award for best actress, having been honored in 1996 for her you-betcha performance in “Fargo.” She was nominated this time for playing an extremely fed-up mother in the divisive “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Allison Janney was expected to receive the supporting actress Oscar for her performance as Tonya Harding’s hard-bitten mother from hell in “I, Tonya.”
Gary Oldman, who transformed himself into a gurgly Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” was the favorite to win best actor. The Hollywood establishment will be shocked if anyone other than Sam Rockwell collects the supporting actor Oscar, for his racist dimwit of a police officer in “Three Billboards.”
Best director appears to be another fait accompli. Guillermo del Toro was expected to receive that honor for “The Shape of Water,” which stars Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning lady who falls for a merman held captive in a government lab. Mr. del Toro, who was omnipresent at get-out-the-vote events in recent months, has already collected the best director prizes at the Golden Globes, the Directors Guild of America Awards and other predictive pre-Oscar ceremonies.
Best Picture is up for grabs.
The best picture race has been unusually competitive, with no consensus among movie insiders about which film is the favorite. “The Shape of Water” has won precursor contests, including the top prize at the Producers Guild Awards, that often result in Oscar gold.
But Mr. del Toro’s film, which has the most nominations (13) of any contender, became enmeshed in a copyright infringement lawsuit during voting, and it failed to receive a nod for best ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. No film since “Braveheart” (1995) has been named best picture without a SAG ensemble nomination.
That makes the winner of this year’s SAG ensemble award, “Three Billboards,” a candidate to win the best picture trophy. “Three Billboards,” directed by Martin McDonagh, also was the biggest winner at the Baftas, given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
A third possibility is that “Get Out,” Jordan Peele’s satirical take on racism in the liberal white suburbs, could come from behind to win. That would be quite a feat since few horror movies have ever achieved best-picture status. (One exception: “The Silence of the Lambs,” which won in 1992.) “Get Out,” with four total nominations, also has another bit of history working against it: Oscar historians say no film has won best picture with fewer than five nods since “Cavalcade” in 1933.