Surprise cameos, Zendaya and plenty of Kenergy – all you need know about the Oscars

It’s the biggest night in the film calendar, full of Hollywood glamour, endless celebrities, and of course a whole haul of little gold men.

It’s been a year of two halves – with months-long industry strikes followed by the viral phenomenon that was Barbenheimer re-invigorating the movie world.

The Oscars - like most other big events this year - will be very different due to coronavirus
The little gold men. Pic: Reuters

Now, as we approach the 96th Annual Academy Awards, all eyes are on the films and stars who could be taking home a prize. Here’s everything you can expect from the night.

When and where?

The Oscars – showbiz’s biggest night of the year – takes place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles tonight.

The red carpet kicks off at 7.30pm UK time followed by the celebrity-packed ceremony from 11pm UK time.

The whole event will be liveblogged here at Sky News – so you can follow every moment, from the run up to the red carpet, the stars arrival right up to the ceremony and into the Vanity Fair after party.

More on Cillian Murphy

The ceremony will air in the UK on ITV.

Is there a theme?

This year, organisers say the show’s all about human connection, with a focus on emotion and creativity.

Oscars red carpet is rolled out in Hollywood ahead of Sunday's ceremony
Oscars red carpet is rolled out in Hollywood ahead of Sunday’s ceremony

They have promised “something special and beautiful” during the In Memoriam section, which will honour stars of the industry – both in front of and behind the camera – we have lost in the last year.

They also hinted at some unexpected guests on the night, advising fans to look out for “reunions, acknowledgements of the past and surprise cameos”.

Who’s hosting?

The ceremony’s hosted for the fourth time by late-night, US talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

Jimmy Kimmel hosts the Oscars show at the 95th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 12, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Jimmy Kimmel at the 95th Academy Awards. Pic: Reuters/Carlos Barria

Academy Award bosses have described him as “relaxed and comfortable” in the role (as well he should be after three previous outings). They also said he gets involved with the whole process of the show, “working for months” and even helping choose presenters.

The 56-year-old previously hosted in 2017, 2018 and 2023 – so he should be prepped and ready for any unexpected events, having made it through 2017’s infamous La La Land and Moonlight best picture announcement mix-up.

He wasn’t there to witness Will Smith’s equally infamous slapping of comedian Chris Rock in 2022, with the show hosted by Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes that year.

What films are up for awards?

Oppenheimer leads the nominations pack with 13; Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things has 11; Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon has 10 and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has eight.

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Oppenheimer is favourite to win best picture

Of course, last summer was really a tale of just two films – thanks to Oppenheimer and Barbie’s same-day release the unexpected portmanteau “Barbenheimer” became a thing and provided a welcome boost to the summer box office after months of industry strikes.

While Barbie won the box office battle with $1.4bn (£1.1bn) in global ticket sales, Oppenheimer is the clear leader for the best picture trophy.

The movie about the race to build the atomic bomb has taken the top prizes at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and BAFTAs.

Could there be any upsets on the night?

Could anything actually derail Oppenheimer from being the big winner of the night?

Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan accepts his award at the BAFTAs. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty
Christopher Nolan. Pic: Kate Green/BAFTA/Getty

Christopher Nolan – who is one of Britain’s most commercially successful filmmakers – has never won an Oscar, despite being nominated for best picture twice before (for Inception and Dunkirk).

It’s definitely unlikely, but if Martin Scorsese, who’s 81, pipped him to it for Killers Of A Flower Moon he’d make history as the oldest best director winner.

Read more:
Oscar nominations: List of films and stars in the running
Oscars 2024 predictions: Is it all about Oppenheimer?
Why Hollywood might finally be turning a corner

In the best actor race it’s Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy in the lead, with The Holdovers leading actor Paul Giamatti also in with a (small) chance.

Neither have won this award before, both give great performances, and both are known for being all-round good guys. However, Murphy’s wins at the SAGS, Globes and BAFTAs mean he’ll probably get it.

Lily Gladstone e accepts the award for Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture at the Golden Globes.
Pic: Reuters
Lily Gladstone winning her Golden Globe. Pic: Reuters

Perhaps the only nail-biter of the evening is in the best actress category, where it’s Emma Stone versus Lily Gladstone.

Stone will probably take the prize on the night, but if Gladstone pulls it out of the bag she’d become the first person of Native American heritage to ever win an acting Oscar.

Meanwhile, if Sandra Huller wins instead, and she’s well-deserving after appearing in two of the films up for best picture (Anatomy Of A Fall and Zone Of Interest), she would be the first German-born actor to win the category in more than 60 years.

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Da’Vine Joy Randolph on awards buzz

In the best supporting actress category, Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a shoo-in, while if the Oppenheimer charm holds Robert Downey Jr will take best supporting actor (his closest competition is Barbie’s Ryan Gosling).

Both Randolph and Downey Jr would be first-time Oscar winners.

And while Oppenheimer will almost certainly bag best picture, should Anatomy Of A Fall, Zone Of Interest or Past Lives get the gong, it would mark only the second time ever that a non-English language film has won a feat first achieved by Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite in 2020.

Any snubs we should know about?

Barbie may have got eight nods, but it’s star – Margot Robbie – and director – Greta Gerwig – were left out in the cold when it came to nominations in the best actress and best director categories.

Gosling, Robbie, and Gerwig on the set of Barbie. Pic: Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros via AP
Gosling, Robbie, and Gerwig on the set of Barbie. Pic: Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros via AP

The omissions led some to claim it’s a case of life imitating art, with the misogyny of the movie mirrored in the industry snub.

Their Barbie co-star Gosling called it “disappointing,” adding that while he was “honoured” to be nominated for best supporting actor for “portraying a plastic doll named Ken, there is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie”.

Who’s presenting the awards?

Dune star Zendaya will join Academy Award-winner Al Pacino and three-time nominee Michelle Pfeiffer as presenters on the night (not together).

Zendaya poses for photographers upon arrival at the World premiere of the film 'Dune: Part Two' on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024 in London. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
Zendaya. Pic: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

And as tradition dictates, last year’s four acting winners will also come back to present at the show: Brendan Fraser from The Whale, and Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis from Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Other celebrities set to grace the Dolby stage include Bad Bunny, Rita Moreno, Matthew McConaughey, Chris Hemsworth, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Keaton, Regina King, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate McKinnon, John Mulaney, Catherine O’Hara, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Lange, Nicolas Cage, Mahershala Ali, Sam Rockwell, Lupita Nyong’o and Ramy Youssef.

Will there be live performances?

There most certainly will. All five original song nominees will be performed on the show, which means we can look forward to Ryan Gosling singing power ballad I’m Just Ken and Billie Eilish singing What Was I Made For, which she co-wrote with her brother Finneas.

Ryan Gosling placed joint fourth on the list, alongside Matt Damon Pic: AP
Ryan Gosling. Pic: AP

The other nominated songs include Diane Warren’s The Fire Inside, from Flamin’ Hot, which will be performed by Becky G, Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson’s It Never Went Away from American Symphony, and Scott George’s Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People) from Killers Of The Flower Moon.

Check back on the Sky News website from around 4pm on Sunday night to follow the entire event on the Oscars liveblog.