Hollywood is rolling out the red carpet once more for the biggest, brashest awards show on the planet and the climax of the movie industry’s annual cycle. Yes, it’s Oscars-time again, folks.
The 88th Academy Award ceremony will be held this Sunday in the Dolby theatre – the show’s home since 2001 – in downtown Los Angeles. The build-up to this year’s production has been no less controversial than previous years. The biggest noise was made due to the absence of non-white nominees – see all the fuss at #OscarsSoWhite. Was it tokenistic then for the Oscars governing body to appoint black comedian Chris Rock to host the show once more and will the sharp-tongued comic allude to this race row?
The world of politics will intrude on the night in the form of US Vice President Joe Biden, who has agreed to present Lady Gaga no less. The dame of weird costume pop, fresh from her turn at half-time at the 50th Superbowl game in San Francisco, will sing her Oscar-nominated song ‘Till It Happens To You’, which plays on the soundtrack of another Oscar nominee, The Hunting Ground, a documentary about sexual violence on university campuses.
In filmic terms, the big question is whether Leonardo Di Caprio – having picked up 6 nominations in his career to date – will win a Best Actor Oscar for his star role in The Revenant, a tale of survival in the Arctic wilderness with Leo going mano-a-mano with a frighteningly convincing grizzly bear and his subsequent revenge. The film was directed by Alejandro Iñárritu, who is also nominated for an Academy Award. It has already scooped international recognition at the London BAFTA’s and Golden Globes in which it bagged Best Film, Best Actor and Best Director at both ceremonies.
One category which stands to attract more attention than usual is international documentaries, a genre being buoyed by online streaming companies like HBO and Netflix. Biopics of Amy Winehouse and legendary jazz musician Nina Simone are in line for Best Feature Documentary. Amy, directed by Asif Kapadia, is the highest-grossing documentary of all time and opened with a box office of £3 million on its first weekend. What Happened, Miss Simone? has been noted for its telling depiction of a ‘gloriously singular’ woman and was directed by Liz Garbus who has previously been nominated for an Academy Award.
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom released and partly produced by Netflix is up for the same award. The film chronicles the student demonstrations which turned into a revolution by people calling for the resignation of President Yanukovych between 2013 and 2014.
In 2013 Netflix managed to win their first ever Emmy Award for a web series when House of Cards, the seminal American political thriller won. Its believed the streaming giant now has a chance at bagging an Oscar for a web-released motion picture.
In the Best Short Documentary category, a documentary about an attempted ‘honour’ killing in Pakistan is tipped for success. A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness documents the story of 18-year-old Saba Qaiser, who was shot in the face by her uncle and her father, before being tied up in a bag and tossed into a river. The film was directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who previously won an Oscar for Saving Face in 2012, a film about acid attacks on women in Pakistan. With this latest release, Obaid-Chinoy adds to her profile as a leading figure in the plight against women in Pakistan.