By Ian Youngs
This year, perhaps more than ever, the ceremony will be about who says what as much as who wins what and who wears what.
Five weeks on from Donald Trump’s inauguration, with the nation divided over the US president and his policies, many Hollywood stars will feel the need to take a stand on the biggest stage of all.
Meryl Streep got the ball rolling at the Golden Globes seven weeks ago. That made her even more of a hero in Hollywood, pretty much secured her an Oscar nomination and gave other actors licence to speak out too.
It’s likely that most of those who want to make a point won’t mention Trump by name, but will instead make thinly veiled references to him by talking about tolerance and inclusion.
But Hollywood has a dilemma. The country is split, and Trump supporters already see celebrities – most of whom lined up behind Hillary Clinton – as an out-of-touch elite.
In a recent Hollywood Reporter poll, two thirds of Trump supporters said they had switched off an awards show when the winners got political. Will making big political or moral pronouncements from the podium change anybody’s minds? Or will they just make them turn off?
Who could speak out:
Meryl Streep (again)
IF SHE could, she surely would. But she’s the outsider to win best actress for Florence Foster Jenkins.
The favourite is La La Land’s Emma Stone, who said in November that Trump’s election was a “chance for us to all unite and do the very, very best we can to speak out and be brave”.
THE Moonlight star and best supporting actor-elect delivered a powerful speech at the Screen Actors Guild Awards recently, first explaining how his film demonstrates what can happen when people are persecuted.
Against the backdrop of Trump’s travel ban, he went on to reveal that he converted to Islam 17 years ago and that his mother is a Christian minister – but that they put aside the differences in their beliefs, which are “not that important”.
DAVIS, who presented Meryl Streep with her honorary award at the Golden Globes, is going to win the best supporting actress Oscar – if you believe the pundits.
It would be no surprise if the Fences star sends a strong message from the stage, although it may not be directly directed at Donald Trump. Backstage at the Globes, she said the identity crisis facing America was “bigger than him”.
SPEAKING at the Bafta Film Awards earlier this month, the best actor contender said he had spoken to Streep and praised her for her speech.
“I told her how much her speech at the Golden Globes meant to all of us and how grateful I was that she did it and kicked in the door a little bit.”
The speech, he went on, “said it’s okay to talk about these things and said it doesn’t matter if we are actors; we have been given a microphone and we can speak out”.
IT IS the Oscar host’s duty to deliver an opening monologue that gently mocks the assembled glitterati while making humorous references to topical events. So expect there to be a lot of Trump in the opening address by Kimmel.
Like every other talk show host, Kimmel has had a field day aiming barbs at Trump on his nightly ABC programme.
Not Asghar Farhadi
THE Iranian director’s A Separation won the best foreign film Oscar in 2012, and he is nominated again this time for The Salesman.
But he has said he will boycott the ceremony in protest at Trump’s attempt to ban travel from Iran and six other countries – even if he is able to attend.
Nobody – but that music is jolly nice
ASIDE from the prospect of alienating half the country, there’s another reason the winners may not get political. They only have 45 seconds each to deliver their speeches before the orchestra strikes up and drowns them out.