The awards themselves will be relatively anti-climatic—hope you’ve got a supply of gold polish handy, Leonardo DiCaprio!—but this Sunday’s 88th annual Academy Awards promises to be an unpredictable television show thanks to a handful of elements that have little to do with Hollywood’s favorite little shiny man. Here are five bold predictions for the Oscars telecast, as dreamt up by Julia Cunningham and Kyle Anderson, the hosts of Entertainment Weekly Radio’s LA Daily.
1. Chris Rock Will Be Putting #OscarsSoWhite Front and Center
The biggest narrative in the walk-up to this year’s awards has been the lack of diversity among the 20 people nominated in the acting categories (though make no mistake: minorities are grossly underrepresented across the board). The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been in and out of Twitter trends since the nominations were first announced, inspiring a handful of high-profile black artists to boycott the show and a number of Hollywood types (particularly of the older variety—looking at you, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Caine) to shove their feet directly into their mouths. While nothing will be done on Sunday to heal the deep wounds of racial bias in America’s entertainment, there will be a saving grace in host Chris Rock, whose monologue will undoubtedly be loaded with messages about the evening’s general lack of diversity. Rock has been test-driving jokes at various comedy clubs around Los Angeles, and if the rumors are true, a lot of high-quality burns will be delivered at the expense of an organization perceived to be narrow-minded. It promises to be uncomfortable, which will be part of the fun.
2. Lady Gaga Will Steal The Show
Lady Gaga is in the midst of a nice little comeback: After a fit of over-exposure that crested with the woefully overwrought Artpop album, she has committed herself to focusing on much simpler work. She released a very successful collection of duets with Tony Bennett, netted herself a Golden Globe for her performance on American Horror Story: Hotel, provided the only entertaining moment of Super Bowl 50 with a stunning rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, and delivered a generally well-received tribute to David Bowie at the Grammys. She’s up for an Oscar on Sunday for Best Original Song, and while she doesn’t have much of a shot at winning (the odds favor the Weeknd’s hit Earned It from 50 Shads of Grey or Sam Smith’s Spectre theme Writing’s on the Wall), her performance of Til It Happens To You will undoubtedly be a show-stopper. It’s a song that not many people have heard because it came from a little-seen (but excellent) documentary about campus rape, but it’s a great tune co-written by Gaga and Diane Warren. Since Gaga can do no wrong behind a microphone at the moment, Til It Happens To You could be the best sequence of Sunday night.
3. The Best Acceptance Speech Will Belong To Pixar
There’s no greater lock on a prize on Sunday than the inevitable victory for Pixar’s Inside Out in the Best Animated Feature category. (Why it’s missing from the Best Picture mix is a mystery, as it stands as one of the finest films of the 21st century, animated or otherwise.) The Academy knows it, the audience knows it, and most importantly the filmmakers know it. That’s why you should look forward to the acceptance speech by Inside Out masterminds Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera. They’re both friends of EW Radio, and in the many meetings we’ve had with them, they have proven themselves to be incredibly intelligent, witty, honest, and warm dudes (no wonder they made a film with the same qualities). They talk about their work in a way that always feels special, so even though their victory will be anti-climatic, their words will be memorable. Most every acceptance speech on Sunday is going to be a bore in one way or another, but Docter and Rivera will guarantee us at least one great set of thanks.
4. Dave Grohl Will Handle Memorial Duties
A few weeks ago, the Academy announced that Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl would be responsible for a “special performance” during the Oscars broadcast. But what would that actually entail? It’s particularly vexing because Grohl was not really involved in any movies last year. He showed up as a talking head in Colin Hanks’ Tower Records documentary All Things Must Pass, and a lot of archival footage of him ended up in Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, but neither of those movies are nominated for anything and weren’t really about Grohl. Speculation has been all over the place regarding Grohl’s participation, but LA Daily is going to go out on a limb and guesses that Grohl will be responsible for scoring the annual In Memoriam montage that will appear roughly three-quarters of the way through the show. Armed with an acoustic guitar, he’ll underscore the soft-focus photos of the film titans who fell in the past year, including James Horner, Christopher Lee, Leonard Nimoy, Omar Sharif, Wes Craven, Melissa Mathison, Maureen O’Hara, Alan Rickman, and David Bowie. Grohl’s solo version of the Foo Fighters’ hit Everlong might make for some nicely melancholic goodbye music (and considering the average age of the Academy’s voting bloc, they’re probably just getting around to listening to that song, which is from 1997).
5. Mad Max: Fury Road Will Take Home The Most Oscars But None That People Will Remember
OK, so here’s the bold prediction about the actual awards: With 10 nominations, expect Mad Max: Fury Road to take home the most statuettes over the course of the night, though they’ll all come in the technical categories (expect it to score prizes in Film Editing, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Makeup & Hairstyling, and Costume Design; consider it an outside favorite for Cinematography and Production Design). But the big winner of the night will go to The Revenant, which will walk away with three prizes: Best Picture, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Best Director (Alejandro Inarritu). The combination of its making-of story (the cast and crew really did suffer in the frozen tundra to make the film), its critical adulation, its previous victories (including Best Picture at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs) and its commercial success will be too overwhelming for voters to deny. That will make to consecutive victories for directing for Innaritu (he won last year for Birdman, also the Best Picture recipient), which puts him in elite company: Only Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1949’s A Letter to Three Wives, 1950’s All About Eve) and John Ford (1940’s The Grapes of Wrath, 1941’s How Green Was My Valley) have won consecutive Oscars for directing.
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