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Oscar fever as Hollywood prepares for its big night

Hollywood rolls out the red carpet tonight for showbiz’s biggest bunfight – the 96th Academy Awards or plain old Oscars to you and me.

The iconic Dolby Theatre at 6801 Hollywood Blvd will once again host the annual gong show with Jimmy Kimmel (once again) presenting.

Following last year’s double victory for Ireland for Ross White and Tom Berkeley’s An Irish Goodbye and Richard Baneham for visual effects on Avatar: The Way Of Water, another big night is in store for Irish filmmakers and actors.

Cillian Murphy: Oscar bravo

Leading the pack is Cillian Murphy, who is hotly tipped to take Best Actor for his commanding lead role in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which has an extraordinary 13 nominations overall.

Corkman Murphy looks unassailable. He’s up against Paul Giamatti in Alexander Payne’s bittersweet (what else?) Christmas movie The Holdovers, Bradley Cooper for Maestro, Colman Domingo for Rustin and Jefferey Wright for American Fiction.

However, no other performance of last year seems to have impressed critics and cinemagoers quite like Murphy’s steely but conflicted portrayal of the father of the atomic bomb.

Speaking to Morning Ireland during the week, the 47-year-old actor was his usual unflustered and philosophical self.

“What will be, will be, you know?” he said. “And there’ll be a good gang of us there. You kind of get to know some of these people on the circuit and they’re people that you really, really admire and it’s lovely to be able to celebrate films collectively together.”

Oscars: the nominees – and winners – on Sunday night

Will Oppenheimer also take Best Picture? It seems likely, even in a strong field that also includes American Fiction, Anatomy of a Fall, Barbie, The Holdovers, Maestro, Past Lives and The Zone of Interest.

Here is the full list of nominees.

Then again, the Motion Picture Academy, which is made up of thousands of movie insiders who make the Nero-like decisions about who goes home with a gold statuette, can be an inscrutable lot.

As we have seen over the years, many superb movies have fallen foul of their caprice with lesser films taking top prizes.

Emma Stones in Poor Things

Poor Things, the surreal steampunk fantasia from Dublin-based film company Element Pictures, is nominated for 11 awards – a record for an Irish-produced film and the second most nominated film this year behind Oppenheimer.

The team at Element are out in Hollywood to toast the success of the movie, but the film’s co-producer Ed Guiney insists that bagging one of those iconic gold statuettes isn’t at the forefront of his mind.

“I don’t know what will happen on the night, whether we come away with prizes or not, but in a way that matters less,” he told RTÉ Entertainment last week.

“The nominations are the things that really power the film in terms of getting audiences to see it and we had that – we just crossed $100 million worldwide the other day.

“But also, it’s the last moment where we will all celebrate Poor Things and then that will be over. All good things must come to an end, so I’m also looking forward to the other side of the Oscars.

“I’m looking forward to moving on to new things.”

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of The Flower Moon

The other big movie of the night is Martin Scorsese’s sweeping historical drama Killers of the Flower Moon with 10 nominations and it looks certain that the movie’s leading lady Lily Gladstone will walk away with Best Actress.

After a struggle to make dear old Oscar more diverse, there was much wailing and gnashing of tweets after one of last year’s biggest hits Barbie failed to make the Best Director cut for Greta Gerwig and Actress in a Leading Role for Margot Robbie.

Margot Robbie in Barbie

However, the tale of the plastic fantastic having an existential crisis is up for Best Movie but unless the academy takes another one of their perverse decisions, it seems unlikely it can resist the awards juggernaut that is Oppenheimer.

Tonight is also a chance for Tinseltown to get its mojo back.

Jimmy Kimmel’s gently goading banter is likely to be poison-tipped after a tough year for Hollywood. No sooner did the world emerge from the pandemic than the film industry ground to a spluttering halt during the SAG-AFTRA strike.

The host will get a respite from his duties with an array of guest presenters announcing and dishing out the gongs.

Zendaya

According to Deadline, there will be a total of 42 celebrity presenters including Brendan Fraser, who won an Oscar for the blubbering mess of The Whale last year, Ariana Grande, Dune star Zendaya, amie Lee Curtis, Sally Field, Dwayne Johnson, Ben Kingsley, Jessica Lange, screen veteran and West Side Story star Rita Moreno, Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Another break from the prize-giving will come when all five nominated Original Songs would be performed tonight, with Jon Batiste, Becky G, Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, Scott George and the Osage Singers, and Ryan Gosling and Mark Ronson taking to the stage.

So, break out the popcorn – it’s gonna be a long night.

Stay tuned to RTÉ Entertainment into the wee small hours tonight for our coverage of the lights, camera, action as it happens.

Highlights of the Oscars will air on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player at 9.35pm on Monday night.


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