‘Joker’ Bags 11 Oscar Nominations

Todd Phillips attends the 25th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association/AFP

 

Todd Phillips’s “Joker,” a dark, arthouse take on the comic book villain starring Joaquin Phoenix, on Monday topped the Oscar nominations with 11.

The pre-dawn Academy Award announcement capped months of ceaseless campaigning by A-listers and studios, revealing which stars and movies have a shot at Hollywood’s ultimate prize next month.

Todd Phillips’s “Joker,” a bleak, arthouse take on the comic book villain starring Joaquin Phoenix, was just ahead of three films.

Quentin Tarantino’s 1960s Tinseltown homage “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” Sam Mendes’s World War I odyssey “1917” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” each earned 10 nominations, including best picture as well as best director.

South Korean class satire “Parasite,” from Bong Joon-ho, secured the final best director slot, meaning once again no female directors made the shortlist.

Much of the focus so far this award season has been on the lack of women and ethnic minority filmmakers honored.

Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed “Little Women” adaptation has been notably absent in several award nominations announcements, although it was one of nine films nominated for the best picture Oscar.

“Unfortunately there are just five nominees” for best director in an “incredibly strong year,” one Academy voter who asked not to be named told AFP, pointing to the revered track records of the likes of Scorsese, Tarantino and Mendes.

Controversy over those omissions, in an industry criticized for its lack of diversity, was fueled at last week’s BAFTA nominations, which were also condemned for overlooking ethnic minorities.

Showbiz legend 

The Oscars picked only one non-white actor — British star Cynthia Erivo, who plays US anti-slavery icon Harriet Tubman in “Harriet.”

Notable snubs included Eddie Murphy for blaxploitation biopic “Dolemite Is My Name,” Jennifer Lopez for “Hustlers,” Awkwafina for “The Farewell” and Lupita Nyong’o for “Us.”

Last year, three of the four acting Oscars went to non-white performers.

Voting for Oscar nominees ended last Tuesday, two days after the Golden Globes.

But Taron Egerton’s Globe-winning turn as Elton John in “Rocketman” was not enough to earn an Oscar nomination in an outrageously competitive best actor field.

Renee Zellweger, who has swept the best actress nominations so far during this awards season, headed the best actress Oscar shortlist thanks to her acclaimed turn as showbiz legend Judy Garland in “Judy.”

Some 9,000 Academy members vote for the Oscars.

In the nominations round of voting, members were asked to rank their top choices only for best picture, and for the categories corresponding with the specific Academy branch to which they belong.

Voting for winners — in which members can vote in every category — begins January 30, closing five days later.

The Oscars will be handed out in Hollywood on February 9.

AFP

‘Game Of Thrones’ Wins Top Emmy For Best Drama Series

The cast of “Game of Thrones” speaks onstage during the 71st Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles on September 22, 2019.
Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

 

“Game of Thrones” took the top Emmy for best drama on Sunday but dark British comedy “Fleabag” was the surprise big winner of television’s glitziest night, dominating the comedy prizes at a star-studded ceremony in Los Angeles.

“Thrones” — the most decorated fictional show in the history of the Emmys, television’s Oscars — finished with 12 awards overall for its final season.

“Thank you to the hardest working crews in show business — the dragons who shot for 70 nights straight in freezing Belfast rain, the wolves who shot all around the world — you are amazing, all of you,” said showrunner Dan Weiss.

Peter Dinklage won his fourth-best supporting actor statuette for his portrayal of sharp-tongued dwarf Tyrion Lannister.

But the blood-soaked fantasy epic’s hopes of going out with a new record number of Emmys for a single season were dashed after it failed to convert nominations in directing, writing and the other acting categories.

The divisive final run of “Thrones” enraged many fans — more than a million signed a petition for HBO to redo its conclusion.

But the 10 nominated cast members of “Thrones” received a standing ovation as they gathered on stage.

“I think all of us agree how amazing the entire last season was for us,” said Sophie Turner, who played Sansa Stark.

“Thrones” had already bagged 10 Emmys in lesser categories at last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmys, including for the show’s special effects and elaborate costumes.

It ends its eight-season run with 59 Emmys, a record for a drama or comedy. Only variety sketch show “Saturday Night Live” has more.

In the night’s biggest shock, “Fleabag” star Phoebe Waller-Bridge bested eight-time acting winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) before the show itself won for best comedy series.

The BBC show — which has grown into a phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic after being acquired by Amazon — also scooped awards for best comedy writing and directing on Sunday, and six overall.

“It’s just really wonderful to know and reassuring that a dirty, pervy, angry, messed-up woman can make it to the Emmys,” said Waller-Bridge.

“This is just getting ridiculous,” she said upon winning the best comedy prize. “The journey has been absolutely mental.”

“Fleabag” was totally shunned by Emmy voters during its first run, failing to bag a single nomination. But the Television Academy’s 24,000-plus voters changed their tune for its second season.

Waller-Bridge has ruled out a third season, saying the irreverent series about a self-absorbed young Londoner has come “to a natural end.”

‘We all have the right’

Billy Porter made history as the first openly gay black man to win the best drama actor prize for FX show “Pose,” which explores New York’s underground ballroom culture in the 1980s.

“I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day,” said Porter, who turned 50 on Saturday, in his acceptance speech.

“I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right,” he added.

Jason Bateman was the surprise winner for directing Netflix’s dark crime thriller “Ozark.” Co-star Julia Garner won best supporting actress.

Sandra Oh failed in her bid to become the first woman of Asian descent to win the leading actress in a drama category, beaten by her co-star Jodie Comer in BBC spy thriller “Killing Eve.”

The pair embraced before British star Comer, who plays an assassin, collected her prize and told the audiences she hadn’t invited her parents to the ceremony “because I didn’t think this was going to be my time.”

“Chernobyl” — HBO’s drama about the 1986 nuclear catastrophe — won the Emmy for best-limited series.

It faced off against “When They See Us,” the searing true story of five New York teenagers wrongly accused of raping a Central Park jogger.

One of the Netflix show’s young stars, Jharrel Jerome, won the prize for best actor in a limited series, and paid tribute to the five men, who attended the ceremony.

Program creator Ava DuVernay tweeted: “I hope this night makes you feel celebrated + seen.”

Bill Hader won for best actor for HBO’s hitman comedy “Barry.” The network pulled off another victory for “Succession,” with Jesse Armstrong — one of the many British winners on the night — taking the prize for drama writing.

 ‘Damn good’

The glitzy 71st Emmys began at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles with a comedy skit: a cartoon Homer Simpson was introduced as “host” — and quickly crushed by a falling piano.

“Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston then appeared on stage to “rescue” the Emmys, delivering a tribute to television’s so-called golden era.

“Television has never been bigger. Television has never mattered more. And television has never been this damn good,” said Cranston.

In the battle of traditional networks vs new platforms, HBO reaffirmed its supremacy over Netflix, finishing with 34 wins to the streaming giant’s 27.

But Louis-Dreyfus missed out on a ninth acting statuette — which would have been her seventh, and a clean sweep for every season, as foul-mouthed vice-president-turned-president Selina Meyer in HBO’s “Veep.”

“I’m sorry, I was told I would be up here alone,” she joked as she later appeared on stage with her co-stars — to a standing ovation — to present an award.

AFP

Denzel Washington Celebrated By Hollywood

Spike Lee (R) presents the award to Denzel Washington during the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California. PHOTO: Amy Sussman / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Actor Denzel Washington was honored by Hollywood on Thursday for a pioneering career spanning five decades and two Oscars that opened the door for a generation of black movie stars.

Director and frequent collaborator Spike Lee presented the 64-year-old with the American Film Institute (AFI) Life Achievement award — billed as “the highest honor for a career in film” — at a gala event at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

READ ALSO: Rihanna Emerges Worlds Richest Female Musician

Hollywood’s small elite of A-list black leading men paid tribute to Washington’s trailblazing career — fellow Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx, and Mahershala Ali took to the stage, as did “Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan.

“You paved the way. You showed us the path. But what’s truly monumental is that your influence, your reach, transcends race without ever denying it,” said Ali.

He added: “We are here because we stand on the shoulders of a giant.”

“There is no ‘Black Panther’ without Denzel Washington,” said Boseman, referring to Marvel Studios’ first film to focus on a black superhero.

Predominantly white Hollywood has been heavily criticized for its diversity problem, notably in the #OscarsSoWhite campaign surrounding the 2016 Academy Awards.

Washington is one of only four black stars to win the best actor Oscar.

He won a best supporting actor Oscar for American Civil War epic “Glory” (1989) and the best actor statuette for his bad cop character in Antoine Fuqua’s crime thriller “Training Day” (2001).

One of cinema’s most versatile actors, Washington has received acclaim for both cerebral, nuanced roles and action parts in movies such as “Man on Fire,” “American Gangster” and “Remember the Titans.”

He portrayed the American Muslim minister and civil rights campaigner Malcolm X in Lee’s 1992 biopic.

Other recent recipients of the annual AFI lifetime achievement award include George Clooney, Al Pacino, and Meryl Streep. Freeman and Sidney Poitier have also been honored.

The gala, which also featured a surprise appearance by Beyonce, will be broadcast by TNT on June 20.

AFP

Alfonso Cuaron Reliving His Childhood In Black And White

Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Cinematography winner for “Roma” Alfonso Cuaron poses in the press room with his Oscars during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2019. FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP

 

Alfonso Cuaron, who won three Oscars on Sunday, owes much of his success to his 10-year-old self.

Cuaron turned 10 in 1971, a turbulent, formative year in the Mexican filmmaker’s life, as he depicts it in “Roma,” the widely hailed, semi-autobiographical film that won statuettes for best director, best cinematography and best foreign language film.

“Being here doesn’t get old,” Cuaron told the audience at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.

“This award belongs to Mexico. It’s a Mexican film on every single front.”

Cuaron has now won Academy Awards with his past two movies, both of which mined the creative material of his childhood — albeit in very different ways.

The 10-year-old Cuaron wanted to be an astronaut, a dream he returned to in 2013 with “Gravity.” That film that won him his first Oscar, for best director — the first-ever Latin American to claim the honor — and best film editing.

Five years later, Cuaron again returned to his childhood — this time, the reality instead of the fantasy.

Set in Mexico City’s Roma neighborhood, filmed in black and white, and written in Spanish and the indigenous Mixtec language, Cuaron’s latest movie is a hauntingly intimate portrait of a tumultuous year in the lives of his family, their nanny and Mexico itself.

Known as a consummate craftsman, Cuaron, 57, meticulously recreated his childhood neighborhood and home for the film.

Aside from its technical mastery, however, “Roma” could hardly be more different from “Gravity,” a 3D outer-space blockbuster that starred George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

READ ALSO: Oscar Winners In Main Categories

Cuaron’s latest film has no Hollywood stars and a cast of mainly novice actors.

“When I finished my last film, I promised myself the next one would be something more simple and personal,” Cuaron said when “Roma” was released.

“I realized this was the moment when I could finally return to Mexico to make a movie, with all the resources, tools and techniques I’d acquired over the years.”

 Triumphant homecoming 

“Roma” tells the story of the two women who raised Cuaron: his mother, who is in the process of separating from his father, and his nanny, a young indigenous woman dealing with her own unplanned pregnancy while caring for the crumbling family that employs her.

“There comes a time in your life when you want to understand who you are, starting at the beginning,” Cuaron told AFP at the film’s Los Angeles premiere.

Cuaron’s mother, Cristina Orozco, is the one who gave him his first movie camera, two years after the events in the film. That is when his astronaut dreams started to give way to an all-consuming interest in making movies.

Cuaron went on to enroll at the film studies institute at Mexico’s largest university, UNAM, only to drop out a year shy of graduating.

He got a job as an assistant director, then landed funding to make a feature film of his own, “Solo con Tu Pareja,” in 1991. It won a series of prizes at film festivals and helped Cuaron get his foot in the door in Hollywood.

His breakout success came in 2001, with “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” a wild but widely acclaimed road movie and coming-of-age story.

That led to a job directing “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), the third installment in the massively successful franchise, and later “Children of Men” (2006) and “Gravity.”

“Roma” is the first film he has made in Mexico since “Y Tu Mama Tambien” — a triumphant homecoming after winning both critical acclaim and box office success in Hollywood. It earned 10 nominations overall.

 Political overtones 

Cuaron’s win was laden with political overtones in the Mexico-bashing era of US President Donald Trump.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has positively fallen in love with Mexican directors in recent years.

Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu — the so-called “Three Amigos” — have won the best director Oscar in five of the past six years.

After winning best film at Britain’s BAFTA awards, Cuaron alluded to the political symbolism of a border-crossing Mexican making it in Hollywood on his own terms.

The film’s success “in an age where fear and anger are proposed to divide us means the world to me,” he said.

AFP

Oscar Winners In Main Categories

Rami Malek, winner of Best Actor for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’; Olivia Colman, winner of Best Actress for ‘The Favourite’; Regina King, winner of Best Supporting Actress for ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’; and Mahershala Ali, winner of Best Supporting Actor for ‘Green Book’ pose in the press room during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2019. FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP

 

Here are the winners in key categories at the 91st Academy Awards, which were handed out on Sunday in Hollywood.

“Green Book” took home the best picture Oscar, while Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” won for best director, best foreign film and best cinematography.

Top acting honors were shared among four different films.

Best picture: “Green Book”

Best director: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Best actor: Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Best actress: Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Best supporting actor: Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Best supporting actress: Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Best foreign language film: “Roma” (Mexico)

Best cinematography: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Best animated feature: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Best documentary feature: “Free Solo”

Best original screenplay: “Green Book” – Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly

Best adapted screenplay: “BlacKkKlansman” – Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott

Best original score: “Black Panther” – Ludwig Goransson

Best original song: “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born,” Lady Gaga,

AFP

 

Spike Lee Finally Wins First Competitive Oscar

Best Adapted Screenplay winner for “BlacKkKlansman” Spike Lee poses in the press room with the Oscar during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California on February 24, 2019. FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP

 

Veteran director Spike Lee on Sunday won his first competitive Oscar, taking home a statuette for best-adapted screenplay for the film “BlacKkKlansman.”

The audience erupted into applause for the 61-year-old who until Sunday had earned an honorary Oscar in late 2015 for his “extraordinary contribution” to film — but no other Academy Awards.

For more than 30 years, Lee has captivated audiences — and sometimes angered them — with his provocative, frank depictions of black America infused with his signature mix of entertainment, activism and rage.

“BlacKkKlansman” is a searing yet sometimes hilarious broadside against racism with the stranger-than-fiction true story of an African-American police officer who managed to infiltrate the highest levels of the Ku Klux Klan.

Lee — decked out in all purple with gold sneakers — jumped into the arms of presenter Samuel L. Jackson before accepting the award.

Lee got political, looking ahead to the upcoming presidential vote.

“It will be a powerful moment,” he said. “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner.”

“Let’s all mobilise, let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate,” he said. Lee was wearing rings on Sunday that bore the two words.

“Let’s do the right thing!” he concluded, referring to his acclaimed 1989 film about simmering racial tensions in New York’s Brooklyn borough.

“You know I had to get that in there,” he said with a smile.

Controversial Race Drama ‘Green Book’ Grabs Top Prize At Oscars

Winners such as Viggo Mortensen, Linda Cardellini, Mahershala Ali, Octavia Spencer, and Brian Currie accept the Best Picture award for ‘Green Book’ onstage during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP

 

Civil rights dramedy “Green Book,” the tale of a celebrated black pianist who befriends his white driver as they tour the segregated American South in the 1960s, overcame controversy to claim Oscars gold.

The critically acclaimed film on Sunday snatched the coveted best picture Oscar to wrap up the Academy Awards — a bit of an upset over Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” which had been the heavy favorite.

The top prize was the third statuette of the night for “Green Book,” which earned a total of five nominations.

Mahershala Ali won the best supporting actor Oscar for his portrayal of pianist Don Shirley, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with driver Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (best actor nominee Viggo Mortensen).

The film also won for best original screenplay.

“The whole story is about love. It’s about loving each other, despite our differences, and finding out the truth about who we are — we’re the same people,” said director Peter Farrelly.

“Green Book” bested seven other films for top honors: “Roma,” superhero flick “Black Panther,” Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” offbeat royal romp “The Favourite,” musical romance “A Star Is Born,” and Dick Cheney biopic “Vice.”

The film — co-written by Vallelonga’s son, Nick — explores race relations and identity as Shirley embarks on the tour and is forced to rely on his initially racist, ill-mannered Italian-American driver.

Mortensen put on 45 pounds (20 kilograms) to play Vallelonga, a family man whose opinions evolve as the film unfolds. The two men learn from each other as they confront stereotypes about themselves and others.

Shirley and Lip remained friends — they both died in 2013.

The feel-good movie is named after The Negro Motorist Green Book, an annual guidebook that provided African-Americans advice on safe places to eat and sleep while travelling during segregation.

An audience favorite, it racked up a number of accolades in the run-up to the Oscars, including a best musical/comedy film award at the Golden Globes and the top prize from the Producers Guild of America.

Ali received numerous statuettes as well as his Oscar, including a Golden Globe, a Bafta and a Screen Actors Guild award.

‘White saviour movie’

But while the film has proven a crowd-pleaser, it has been embroiled in controversy since its premiere.

Shirley’s relatives, including his brother, have objected to the storyline, saying they were never consulted and have denounced the film as a “symphony of lies.”

Shirley’s niece, Carol Shirley Kimble, blasted the movie as a “depiction of a white man’s version of a black man’s life.”

The film also became part of a wider debate in the United States about race, with many describing it as yet another “white saviour movie” told through the lens of its white protagonist.

“The Green Book is a black story and for a white man to steal that legacy and name for a film that has little or nothing to do with The Green Book is unacceptable,” Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams said in a Facebook post.

“We have always had our stories and our history stolen from us and told through the lens of whiteness and this film is Hollywood’s latest example.”

Vallelonga has defended his work, saying it was based on stories his father told him about the tour. He also says Shirley advised him before his death not to speak to anyone else about his project.

“We were aware of the certain tropes, like the white saviour trope — the white guy saves the black guy — as well as the black saviour trope — the black guy saves the white guy,” Farrelly told Newsweek in November.

“We were careful not to make this film either of those.”

But then Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga attracted negative headlines themselves — the director for an apparent dirty practical joke he used to pull on sets, and Vallelonga for an anti-Muslim tweet.

Both apologized — and it seems that Oscar voters have forgiven them.

AFP

Autobiographical Drama ‘Roma’ Triumphs With Three Oscars

Alfonso Cuaron, the winner of Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography for “Roma,” poses in the press room during the 91st Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 24, 2019, in Hollywood, California. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/AFP

 

Alfonso Cuaron’s intimate family drama “Roma” triumphed at the Oscars on Sunday, winning for best foreign film, best director and best cinematography.

The win was also a major step forward for Netflix, which became the first streaming content provider to claim the best director prize from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, highlighting its increasing clout.

But it fell short at the finish, losing the top best picture prize to “Green Book.”

The semi-autobiographical black-and-white drama tells the story of an indigenous woman named Cleo — played by first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio — who works as a housekeeper and nanny for a middle-class family in Mexico City’s Roma district during the 1970s.

The film, shot in a mixture of Spanish and the indigenous Mixtec language, had earned a total of 10 Oscar nominations and is the crown jewel in Cuaron’s already illustrious award-winning career.

“This award belongs to Mexico,” Cuaron told reporters. “It’s a Mexican film on every single front.”

First indigenous woman nominated

For Cuaron, “Roma” was a deeply personal project that focused on the two women central to his life at the time: his mother Cristina, renamed Sofia in the film and played by Marina de Tavira, and the family’s live-in nanny, Libo, renamed Cleo and played by Aparicio.

The film follows Cleo as she cares for the family’s four children and manages the household while dealing with her own personal life.

Cuaron was so keen on faithfully recreating the atmosphere of the time that he managed to reclaim furniture from family for his set and was lucky enough to find a similar house in the Roma neighborhood that had been slated for demolition.

The 57-year-old director has said he has been overwhelmed by the widespread critical acclaim for the movie and was particularly proud “Roma” had spotlighted the lives of domestic workers.

“What is most significant is that this film, which has drawn huge media attention, has a main character who is a domestic employee and is indigenous,” the director told AFP earlier this month at a luncheon for the Oscars nominees in Beverly Hills.

“Yalitza is the first indigenous woman nominated for a best actress award in the history of the Oscars. And that, to me, is very important.”

Netflix has described the film as the director’s way of “delivering an artful love letter to the women who raised him.”

Smart gamble for Netflix

“Roma” marks a turning point for Netflix, which last month joined the Motion Picture Association of America, the first time a non-Hollywood studio has been granted entry to the powerful lobbying group.

The film was a bit of a gamble for the company, given that it was a foreign-language period film shot in black and white with an unknown lead actress. But the risk was a smart one, and turned into a reward.

“Roma” also had a limited release in theaters, showing in more than any other Netflix film to date, but in far fewer than its competitors — another risk.

But the company mounted an aggressive — and expensive — awards season marketing campaign, hosting events, renting billboards in Los Angeles and even reportedly sending major swag to journalists.

And in the end, “Roma” proved to be an awards darling, capturing major awards at the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Baftas, and the top prize from the Directors Guild of America.

It also won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival.

For Cuaron himself, it is his second Oscar-winning film.

In 2014, his science fiction thriller “Gravity” pulled in seven Oscars including one for best director, which at the time made him the first Hispanic and Mexican filmmaker to win the award.

AFP

Queens, Maids Of Hollywood Prepare For Oscars

 

The red carpet has been rolled out for an Oscars ceremony on Sunday filled with suspense over the movie industry’s biggest prize and a night of what could be history-making firsts.

Without a host for the first time in 30 years, there’s also curiosity over whether organizers can return the Academy Awards to a must-see television event after a record low audience in 2018.

Lady Gaga, Bette Midler and Jennifer Hudson are all set to perform, along with rock band Queen featuring “American Idol” star Adam Lambert. Tennis champion Serena Williams and talk show host Trevor Noah will also appear on the Dolby Theatre stage in Hollywood in a bid to broaden the show’s appeal beyond movie fans.

Without a host for the first time in 30 years, there’s also curiosity over whether organizers can return the Academy Awards to a must-see television event after a record low audience in 2018.

READ ALSO: Actor Jussie Smollet Charged With Filing False Report Of Assault

Lady Gaga, Bette Midler and Jennifer Hudson are all set to perform, along with rock band Queen featuring “American Idol” star Adam Lambert. Tennis champion Serena Williams and talk show host Trevor Noah will also appear on the Dolby Theatre stage in Hollywood in a bid to broaden the show’s appeal beyond movie fans.

Despite the celebrity names, all eyes are on the best picture prize in one of the most eclectic Oscar line-ups for years.

Disney’s “Black Panther,” the first superhero movie ever nominated for best picture, will compete against popular musicals “A Star is Born” from Warner Bros and 21st Century Fox film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” along with racially themed “Green Book” and “BlacKkKlansman” from Universal Pictures.

Black-and-white Mexican film “Roma,” quirky 18th century Fox Searchlight comedy “The Favourite” and independent political satire “Vice” round out the competition.

After two months of intense and costly campaigning, award watchers say the winner is anyone’s guess.

“Best picture is probably a toss-up between ‘Roma’ and ‘Green Book,’ and I can maybe see ‘BlacKkKlansman’ sneaking in to win,” said Alison Willmore, critic and culture writer at BuzzFeed News.

The winners are chosen by the 8,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A victory for “Roma,” director Alfonso Cuaron’s sentimental journey back to his childhood, would mark the first Oscar best picture win for Netflix and a sign that streaming services can not only compete with traditional Hollywood studios but beat them at their own game.

Academy Awards: ‘A Star Is Born’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Nominated For Best Picture

In this file photo taken on March 1, 2018 Oscars statuettes stand on display during a preview for the Governors Ball during the 90th annual Academy Awards week in Hollywood, California. 
VALERIE MACON / AFP

 

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards have been announced with A Star Is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody and Black Panther, making it to the Best Picture category.

It is the first time a superhero movie – Disney’s Black Panther – is getting a Best Picture nomination.

In 2018, it was the top-grossing film in North America, taking in more than $700 million in ticket sales.

The Shape of Water had won Best Picture for last year’s Oscars.

This year’s winner, however, will be announced on February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Read Also: Nominees For Academy Awards Unveiled [See Full List]

Below is the full list of Best Picture nominees as well as nominees in the main categories.

Best Picture:

“Black Panther”

“BlacKkKlansman”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“The Favourite”

“Green Book”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

“Vice”

Best Director:

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”

Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Adam McKay, “Vice”

Best Actor:

Christian Bale, “Vice”

Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”

Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Best Actress:

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”

Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”

Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”

Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams, “Vice”

Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Best Foreign Language Film:

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)

“Cold War” (Poland)

“Never Look Away” (Germany)

“Roma” (Mexico)

“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Best Animated Feature:

“Incredibles 2”

“Isle of Dogs”

“Mirai”

“Ralph Breaks the Internet”

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Nominees For Academy Awards Unveiled [See Full List]

In this file photo taken on March 1, 2018 Oscars statuettes stand on display during a preview for the Governors Ball during the 90th annual Academy Awards week in Hollywood,
VALERIE MACON / AFP

 

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards were unveiled Tuesday, with Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma”, “The Favourite” leading the pack with 10 each, followed by musical romance “A Star Is Born” with eight

 

Below are the nominees in key categories for the 91st Academy Awards, to be handed out on February 24 in Hollywood.

 

Best Picture:

“Black Panther”

“BlacKkKlansman”

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

“The Favourite”

“Green Book”

“Roma”

“A Star Is Born”

“Vice”

Best Director:

Spike Lee, “BlacKkKlansman”

Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”

Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”

Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”

Adam McKay, “Vice”

Best Actor:

Christian Bale, “Vice”

Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”

Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate”

Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”

Best Actress:

Yalitza Aparicio, “Roma”

Glenn Close, “The Wife”

Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”

Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”

Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Best Supporting Actor:

Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”

Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”

Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”

Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Sam Rockwell, “Vice”

Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams, “Vice”

Marina de Tavira, “Roma”

Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Emma Stone, “The Favourite”

Rachel Weisz, “The Favourite”

Best Foreign Language Film:

“Capernaum” (Lebanon)

“Cold War” (Poland)

“Never Look Away” (Germany)

“Roma” (Mexico)

“Shoplifters” (Japan)

Best Animated Feature:

“Incredibles 2”

“Isle of Dogs”

“Mirai”

“Ralph Breaks the Internet”

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Best Documentary Feature:

“Free Solo”

“Hale County This Morning, This Evening”

“Minding the Gap”

“Of Fathers and Sons”

“RBG”

Best Original Screenplay

“The Favourite” – Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara

“First Reformed” – Paul Schrader

“Green Book” – Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie and Peter Farrelly

“Roma” – Alfonso Cuaron

“Vice” – Adam McKay

Best Adapted Screenplay

“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” – Joel and Ethan Coen

“BlacKkKlansman” – Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott

“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” – Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty

“If Beale Street Could Talk” – Barry Jenkins

“A Star Is Born” – Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth and Will Fetters

Best Original Score

“Black Panther” – Ludwig Goransson

“BlacKkKlansman” – Terence Blanchard

“If Beale Street Could Talk” – Nicholas Britell

“Isle of Dogs” – Alexandre Desplat

“Mary Poppins Returns” – Marc Shaiman

Best Original Song

“All The Stars” from “Black Panther”

“I’ll Fight” from “RBG”

“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns”

“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born”

“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs” from “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”

Films with more than five nominations

“Roma” – 10

“The Favourite” – 10

“A Star Is Born” – 8

“Vice” – 8

“Black Panther” – 7

“BlacKkKlansman” – 6

“Green Book” – 5

“Bohemian Rhapsody” – 5

 

Kevin Hart Out As Oscars MC Over Anti-Gay Tweets

In this file photo taken on August 20, 2018 US actor/comedian Kevin Hart attends the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 20, 2018 in New York City. US comedian and actor Kevin Hart announced on December 4, 2018, that he would be hosting the 91st Academy Awards in February.
ANGELA WEISS / AFP

 

US comedian and actor Kevin Hart abruptly withdrew from hosting the Oscars Thursday night amid flack for past homophobic and anti-gay tweets.

Two days after announcing he had landed what he called a dream gig, Hart said that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had told him to choose between apologizing for the tweets or losing the job.

Hart said the tweets were from nearly a decade ago and that he has matured since then.

“I chose to pass on the apology. The reason why I passed is because I’ve addressed this several times,” Hart, 39, said during a video posted to Instagram.

“I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then. I’ve done it. I’m not going to continue to go back and tap into the days of old when I’ve moved on and I’m in a completely different place in my life,” Hart said.

On Twitter, Hart apologized to the LGBTQ community for what he called “my insensitive words from my past.”

“I’m sorry that I hurt people,” he added. “I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”

The Academy must now find a new host for the 91st Academy Awards in February.

The “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” star was to have hosted the glitzy event after talk show host Jimmy Kimmel held the gig for two consecutive years.

Whoever hosts it will face pressure to boost audience ratings for the annual show that will be held on February 24 in Hollywood and which had an all-time low of 26.5 million viewers last year, compared to 43 million in 2014.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has said that it was introducing a number of changes to improve viewership, including shortening the show to three hours and handing out some of the awards during commercial breaks.