The 2023 Oscars is here, and it’s looking for a comeback.
Ratings continue to be a struggle for the ceremony’s telecast — last year was the second lowest in the show’s history (15.4 million viewers versus 23.6 million in 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic).
And the specter of eventual lead actor winner Will Smith’s onstage slap of presenter Chris Rock, which spoiled the show’s return to post-pandemic normalcy, continues to loom over this year’s ceremony.
Yet the motion picture academy seems poised to keep Hollywood’s biggest night in line with its new “crisis team” in place should anything untoward happen during the ceremony.
The nomination of several blockbusters for best picture aims to attract some buzz. The academy has even gotten Rihanna to perform her Oscar-nominated song, “Lift Me Up,” from the film “Wakanda Forever.” After all, the pop star gave the 2023 Super Bowl its own ratings bump with more fans tuning in to watch the pop star rather than to watch the game itself.
But make no mistake, the academy is still trying to keep its own version of the big game at the center, bringing back all 23 awards categories to the live telecast.
What time is the show? How can I watch it?
The 95th Academy Awards will air at 8 p.m. Eastern, or 4 p.m. Alaska time, on Sunday on ABC and will be available to stream on Hulu Live TV, YouTubeTV, DirecTV Stream and FuboTV, all of which have free trials for new customers.
The show will take place in Los Angeles at the Dolby Theatre, where each ceremony has been held since 2002, with the exception of a stop at Union Station in 2021 for an intimate ceremony due to pandemic gathering restrictions.
Jimmy Kimmel is returning to host the Oscars for the third time. He previously hosted in 2018 and in 2017, in which “La La Land” was mistakenly named best picture instead of the actual winner, “Moonlight.” In the immediate aftermath, Kimmel ushered the awkward hand-off between the two film productions, and cracked jokes to add levity to the unprecedented flub.
A familiar face and poise amid the unexpected is what show producers want in a post-slap world.
“That’s why you want someone like Jimmy onstage who is used to dealing with live TV: Things don’t always go as planned,” Bill Kramer, chief executive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, told Time. “So you have a host in place who can really pivot and manage those moments.”
Kimmel joked about his Oscars return Thursday on “Good Morning America,” saying: “Nobody got hit when I hosted the show — everybody was well-behaved at my Oscars.”
The late-night talk show host also teased that he will “have some good things to say about” the slap as a part of his comic routine.
“I think it’s gonna be on everybody’s mind, everybody’s gonna be waiting for that moment,” Kimmel said, referring to his jokes that will address the slap. “That will be part of the show, but certainly not the focus of the show.”
Who and what is nominated?
The nominations were announced in January by actors Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” leads with 11, followed by Netflix’s German war movie “All Quiet on the Western Front” and the Irish dark comedy “The Banshees of Inisherin,” with nine each, and “Elvis” with eight.
[The Oscar universe belongs to ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’]
Box office triumphs “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” landed six, five and four nods, respectively. The best picture nominations for “Top Gun” and “Avatar” marked the first time more than one nominee had grossed more than $1 billion globally. Academy leaders hope including more popular films in the awards show will draw in more viewers.
Below are the projects and performances that have been nominated in some major categories, taken from the complete list of 2023 nominees:
“All Quiet on the Western Front”
“Avatar: The Way of Water”
“The Banshees of Inisherin”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”
“Top Gun: Maverick”
“Triangle of Sadness”
Austin Butler (“Elvis”)
Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”)
Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”)
Bill Nighy (“Living”)
Cate Blanchett (“Tár”)
Ana de Armas (“Blonde”)
Andrea Riseborough (“To Leslie”)
Michelle Williams (“The Fabelmans”)
Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Brendan Gleeson (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”)
Judd Hirsch (“The Fabelmans”)
Barry Keoghan (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”)
Hong Chau (“The Whale”)
Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Stephanie Hsu (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Lady Gaga will not be performing her nominated song, power ballad “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick.” But there won’t be a shortage of star power, as Rihanna will headline this year’s list of performers.
The “Anti” singer was the first to be announced and will perform “Lift Me Up,” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
“Descendants” star Sofia Carson, accompanied by songwriter Diane Warren, will perform “Applause” from the anthology film “Tell It Like a Woman.” That song marks Warren’s 14th Oscar nomination. Her most recent nod came in 2022 for “Somehow You Do” from the drama “Four Good Days,” and she received an honorary award at the academy’s Governors Awards in November.
The Talking Heads’ David Byrne, also an Oscar winner, will take the stage to sing “This Is a Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” with Hsu and music trio Son Lux. Indie music icon Mitski, who co-wrote the song, will not be performing.
Telugu-language singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava will make their Oscars debut performing their song, “Naatu Naatu,” from Indian action epic “RRR.”
Rock superstar Lenny Kravitz is set to perform during the In Memoriam segment.
The academy announced the last of its presenters Thursday, featuring Oscar winner Halle Berry, the first and only Black woman to win for lead actress. Other presenters include Paul Dano, Cara Delevingne, Harrison Ford, Kate Hudson, Mindy Kaling, Eva Longoria, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Andie MacDowell, Elizabeth Olsen, John Travolta and Pedro Pascal.
Previously announced Oscars presenters include Riz Ahmed, Halle Bailey, Antonio Banderas, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, John Cho, Glenn Close, Jennifer Connelly, Ariana DeBose, Andrew Garfield, Hugh Grant, Danai Gurira, Salma Hayek Pinault, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B. Jordan, Nicole Kidman, Troy Kotsur, Jonathan Majors, Melissa McCarthy, Janelle Monáe, Deepika Padukone, Florence Pugh, Questlove, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver and Donnie Yen.
The jury is still out on who will present the lead actor award. Typically, the previous year’s winner does the honors. Smith, who won the category in 2022, is banned from the show for the next decade.
(L.A. Times staff writers Josh Rottenberg and Nardine Saad contributed to this report.)