By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES, March 27 (Reuters) – Gothic-tinged western “The Power of the Dog” competes on Sunday with family drama “CODA” for the top honor of the U.S. film industry, which has eased pandemic restrictions. and will allow a crowd to flock to Hollywood for the Academy Awards.
The two films are the favorites for the award for Best Picture in a red carpet ceremony that sees some changes in the industry. One of them is that a victory for either tape would mark a hit by giving a statuette to a streaming service.
Netflix Inc. says “The Power of the Dog,” says “CODA” and is streaming on Apple TV+.
After complaints in the past about lack of diversity, two of the four acting awards may go to people of color. Will Smith tried to win the Oscar for “King Richard”, then awards analysts, such as Ariana DeBose, could take home a statuette for her role in the new version of “Love Without Barriers”.
Comedians Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes will host, the first time three women have hosted the ceremony in its 94-year history. Beyonce and Billie Eilish present on the show.
In a bid to attract more viewers, especially young people, after years of declining ratings, the three-hour show began at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time (0000 GMT). In addition, it will add two prizes: the result of the vote of the fans on Twitter for their Best Movie and Favorite Scene.
The ceremony, which will be broadcast live on Walt Disney Co’s ABC channel, will also make references to and showcase support for Ukraine. The producers want the show to be a celebration, but said they couldn’t ignore a conflict of this magnitude.
In the race for Major Picture, success depends on whether the 9,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences back a gothic thriller or inspirational story.
“The pundits have always said you never know who’s going to win,” said People magazine’s film editor Nigel Smith. “This year, that seems to be the case,” he added.
“The Power of the Dog,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a repressed cowboy who torments his brother’s wife, topped all other films with 12 nominations. She was considered the favorite until “CODA” won Screen Actors Guild and Producers Guild Awards.
“CODA” tells the story of a girl who performs for her deaf family but longs to pursue a career in music. CODA is an acronym for “child of deaf adults.”
“He hasn’t really talked to anyone who doesn’t like ‘CODA,'” Smith said.
A traditional Hollywood studio give a surprise. Awards experts are betting on Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” and movies inspired by his childhood in Northern Ireland at the start of the sectarian conflict known as The Troubles, or on Steven Spielberg’s remake of “Love Without Barriers.”
“King Richard” star Smith is the favorite to win the major actor award for playing the determined father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. His competitors include Cumberbatch and Andrew Garfield for the musical “Tick, Tick… Boom!”.
The Major Actress category is more unpredictable. Many pundits pointed to Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of television evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker as saying, but they also asked about Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Princess Diana in “Spencer.”
Previous Oscar winners Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz and Olivia Colman are also up for Best Actress.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine. Editing in Spanish by Lucila Sigal)