February 24, 2019
The 91st Academy Awards have finally arrived: here’s what you need to know, when you need to know it by and who (we think) will win the key prizes
Oscars 2019: predictions, timetable and all you need to know for the big night
And now, the end is near … This year’s Oscar season has been the most fractious in memory: not only have many of the contenders been given the third degree for various failings, but the ceremony itself – the old standby of reliably dull TV – has been pulled this way and that with a series of messed-up tweaks that have served mainly to enrage the Oscars own membership. Whether it’s the Kevin Hart debacle, the farrago over ad-break presentations, or the attempt to axe the non-famous songs, it’s safe to say it hasn’t gone well. So far.
So putting all that aside, what have we actually got? We still don’t know if there’ll be a surprise host (Whoopi Goldberg was being talked up as a last-minute possible), though it seems clear various attention-grabbing names have been frogmarched in to do some sort of podium duty. The Academy have backed away from all their various publicly-floated proposals to trim the running time, but they have pledged to keep it to three hours, so we will have to wait and see what they ditch. (Here’s a suggestion: those skincrawling comedy bits designed to go viral .)
As the awards themselves, there’s been a pleasing lack of consensus on what and who should win what. The Favourite and Roma both have 10 nods, but that doesn’t mean much at the best of times. Quite a few of the contenders have muddied the waters themselves: Green Book for the idiocies of its director and writer, Roma for its trousering of Netflix’s marketing budget, Bohemian Rhapsody for Bryan Singer. No one can really be confident, least of all because the guild awards – normally pretty reliable indicator as its basically the same voters – have garlanded completely different films this year. The only dead certs look like Rami Malek and his ’tache for Bohemian Rhapsody and – much lower down the list – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for best animated feature. You would assume Glenn Close would be the sentimental favourite for The Wife. Other than that, all bets appear to be off.
As usual, your hardworking Guardian team will be on the case. Stuart Heritage is our own master of ceremonies on the live blog, the fashion team will be checking out the red carpet, Peter Bradshaw will be casting his world-weary eye over the results, and Hadley Freeman is our spy at the after-parties. So while we wait for all that to get going, here are a few pointers as to what to look out for and some final predictions.

Timetable
It all kicks off on Sunday 24 February, in the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The Oscars live telecast starts at 5pm (PST)/8pm (EST) – that translates to 1am (GMT) on Monday in London and 12 noon (AEDT) on Monday in Sydney. You can watch it live on ABC in the US, Sky TV in the UK, and Channel 9 in Australia. Red carpet junkies can start watching three hours earlier – 2pm (PST)/5pm (EST)/11pm (GMT)/9am (AEDT) – on the E! TV channel. And the show itself is going to be three hours long. Got that? THREE HOURS.

Final predictions
At this stage, we’re all punchdrunk. Who knows? Peter Bradshaw has already had his say, so you might want to refresh your memory. The bookies have their own theories, but – you know – I don’t think they know much about films. Guardian writers have been advancing arguments on behalf of all the best picture nominees, and now we’re even more confused. Time to stick our fingers in our ears and belch out a few last minute picks/guesses.
Best picture The Favourite
Best director Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Best actor Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Best actress Glenn Close, The Wife
Best supporting actor Richard E Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Best supporting actress Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Best original screenplay The Favourite
Best adapted screenplay BlacKkKlansman
Best documentary RBG
Best original song Shallow, A Star Is Born
Best animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Best foreign language film Roma


Things to look out for
•A host? Anyone? Will someone be welcoming everyone to the ball? And will there be a monologue? In recent years that’s been the only actually funny bit of the whole thing, before the Oscars got addicted to stupid presenter stunts.
•The last time the Oscars had no host, this happened. It was arguably the most jawdropping idea anyone ever had, and wrecked the careers of (almost) everyone involved. Will something as similarly awful emerge this year? We can but hope.
•The Oscars gift bag is always good for a laugh – just bear in mind these aren’t official, just a bunch of self-promoting hucksters riding on the coat-tails of the big event. Personally, I can’t wait to see if someone gets busy with their Mr Poop toilet plunger on the red carpet, or hands around tasty treats from their cannabis edibles gift box.
•We don’t know yet what order they’ll do the handouts, as there seems to be a great deal of fiddling about with the show. But they traditionally kick off with the best supporting actor gong, which a little while back looked nailed on for Mahershala Ali. But if Richard E Grant nabs it, it’ll show the anti-Green Book faction is a power to be reckoned with, and that Grant’s shameless pitching on social media. For the full list of nominations, look here.
•If we can be so bold, can we draw your attention to the fact that the Guardian itself is up for an Oscar tonight? Our film Black Sheep is up for best documentary short. You can watch it now, if you like. And if it wins, you’ll be able to hear the hellish screams of delight emanating from Guardian HQ.

•The Academy managed to put everyone’s backs up by trying to shove a few awards into the commercial breaks, drop most of the songs and – most insultingly of all – try and get rid of the no-names who only went and won last year. So if there’s an extra big cheer for Alison Janney, or whoever wins best film editing, or whoever belts out that funny song from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, you’ll know why.
•Will anyone do a Gwyneth Paltrow and totally lose it on the podium? Hard to anticipate of course: we’d expect nothing less than regal elegance if Glenn Close steps up, and Christian Bale looks unlikely to get another chance to invoke a Satanic hellstorm, but if Olivia Colman gets the gong, I think we’re in for a treat.
•Hollywood seems to have got the memo that political posturing leads to aggravation from the TV audience and a visit from the online Maga crew, so there’s not likely to be anything in the Marlon Brando/Vanessa Redgrave league. If anything does emerge, the most likely are barbed comments over the lack of female directors, a la Natalie Portman at last year’s Golden Globes.
•And last but not least, Stuart Heritage will be conducting the now-traditional Oscars bingo on the live blog. Card below – and take it away Stuart!
Oscars 2019: predictions, timetable and all you need to know for the big night
• This article was amended on 24 February to correct the date of the Oscars ceremony.
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