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Five things that could happen at the Oscars on Sunday

The hostless ceremony is trying harder than ever to get viewers.
Published Feb. 22, 2019
Updated Feb. 22, 2019

Forget Kevin Hart. Even before the comedian signed on to host the 91st Academy Awards, then dropped out, then went on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and implied he’d be interested in coming back, this year’s ceremony reeked of desperation.

Way back in September, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences floated the idea of an Oscar honoring the year’s most “popular” movies. The reason? Get movies people have actually seen included in the telecast, in the hopes of reviving ratings that have been sinking for years.

Since then, the folks behind the show have announced a number of odd choices, eager to court a younger demographic whose television habits skew more toward using their friend’s cousin’s dog’s HBO Go password, not tuning into a live awards show. On Feb. 12, it was announced that some categories like Best Cinematography would not air. Before that, it was the idea that only two of the five Best Original Song nominees would perform.

All of these decisions have been reversed. The show remains hostless, for the first time in 30 years. The Oscars are a hot mess.

So what will the actual show look like? What will the producers trot out to stoke the viral flames of Twitter? Just the other day, we learned that Queen and Adam Lambert will kick off the show airing Sunday on ABC, Bohemian Rhapsody’s Best Picture nod proving a convenient way to air a mini concert by one of the most popular bands ever. If you had told us that would happen six months ago, we would have thought it was just as far-fetched as these other five potential scenarios.

The Avengers take a giant group selfie.

Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Wong (Benedict Wong) in 'Avengers: Infinity War.'

The cast of Marvel’s Avengers movies are among a slew of big presenters at this year’s show. And even if it’s just Don Cheadle and Jeremy Renner holding court in the Dolby Theatre, you bet ABC, which airs the telecast, will go to great lengths to remind you that Avengers: Endgame debuts in a mere two months. Especially since, for the first time, a fellow Marvel movie (Black Panther) is nominated for Best Picture.

The Obamas show up.

Michelle Obama. (Associated Press)

Okay, maybe not both of them, but at least one. Michelle Obama surprised everyone by taking the stage ahead of a Motown tribute at the Grammys on Feb. 10. Why not President Barack to introduce a Best Picture nominee? We know he liked Roma and Black Panther!

Awkwafina hands out snacks.

From top left: Tina Fey, Daniel Craig, Constance Wu, Awkwafina, Chris Evans and Tessa Thompson are among the actors presenting at Sunday's Oscars ceremony.

There is a robust tradition of audience participation via food at these awards: Ellen DeGeneres ordered pizza for the audience in 2017; Jimmy Kimmel gave every guest a snack-filled lunchbox last year. With at least three actors from Crazy Rich Asians slated to present - scene-stealer Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh and Constance Wu - it feels like we could get some sort of moment where the women of this wildly popular 2018 movie lead a group activity.

'Toy Story’ characters show up, in human or cartoon form.

Keegan-Michael Key, left, and Jordan Peele. [Associated Press]

Toy Story 4 comes out this summer, and there are a number of charming voice actors who could take the stage to remind us of this fact. The most obvious pairing is Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, Woody and Buzz in the flesh. But early trailers for the Pixar sequel go all in on a pair of new characters, Ducky and Bunny, voiced by Jordan Peele (an Oscar winner for Get Out) and Keegan-Michael Key (an American treasure). Will the Key & Peele pair reunite for a gag that will probably prove why they’d make great Oscars hosts? Will the show employ clever animation to have their fluffy counterparts present an award?

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga declare their love for each other.

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in 'A Star Is Born.' (Warner Bros.)

I know Bradley has a girlfriend, but wouldn’t this be a thrilling ending to A Star Is Born’s somewhat confusing Oscars season? The movie debuted to a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival but will probably go home nearly empty-handed Sunday night. Cooper and Gaga will perform their Best Original Song nominee Shallow during the show, and Cooper made it a point to say he won’t perform as his character Jackson Maine but as Bradley Cooper. Character or not, the two have wild chemistry. Tell me something boy, aren’t you tried tryin’ to fill that void?

The 91st Academy Awards are at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC.


  1. 7/6/01 Coleman, Fl.   Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Fl. in Sumter County. The prison's women's camp has confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease [CLIFF MCBRIDE  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Residents at Tampa Park Apartments have been told they must move out by Nov. 1 because the 21-acre property between downtown Tampa and Ybor City has been sold. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times]
  3. St. Petersburg-based Jabil said Tuesday it's projecting that the spread of the coronavirus will hurt its second-quarter performance. [Handout photo]
  4. Polk deputies investigate an incident Monday night in which two men walking along a roadway were killed after a semi crossed the white line and hit them. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  5. The Clearwater council recently voted to buy 13 Chevy Caprice Police Patrol Vehicles for $374,000, or about $28,770 apiece.
  6. Recently released body cam footage shows the arrest of Kai Rolle at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy. [Photo from video/Facebook]
  7. Aerial view of Coachman Park in Clearwater. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
  8. Michael Stevens, 28, left, works to stay warm with friend Cash Holland, 21, right, outside the Boys and Girls Club of Tarpon Springs' cold night shelter on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, where the homeless men were among 28 people who took refuge from cooler weather which dipped to 36 degrees in north Pinellas County overnight. Another cold front is expected to his Tampa Bay around mid-week this week. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
  9. The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Charles Polen, 40, ran over and killed his girlfriend before turning around and going back to the bar where they'd been drinking. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  10. He may look happy here, but Bradley Pinion seems pretty overjoyed (at least on social media) at the prospect of the team dumping this uni design. [Times]
  11. Gerald Nicolas was arrested Wednesday and charged with 50 felony counts of possession of child pornography. [Sarasota County Sheriff's Office]