Oscars: What to Watch for at This Year’s Show

THR Chris Rock 9878_09_1748 - H 2016
Joe Pugliese

THR Chris Rock 9878_09_1748 - H 2016

Chris Rock is back to host the 88th annual Academy Awards airing on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT.

The 88th annual Academy Awards is about far more than just the possible winners come Sunday.

The #OscarsSoWhite controversy rages on, and host Chris Rock will certainly have something to say about it. The Revenant's Leonardo DiCaprio could finally get his first Oscar. Some nominees might even walk the Oscars red carpet as Razzie winners from the night before. 

The caliber of presenters is also high, with Vice President Joe Biden among them. Biden will introduce Lady Gaga on Sunday for her performance of "Til It Happens to You," the nominated original song for the documentary The Hunting Ground. Other Oscar presenters and performers include J.J. Abrams, Patricia Arquette, Steve Carell, Henry CavillPriyanka Chopra, Louis C.K., Common, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Ryan Gosling, Kevin Hart, Daisy Ridley and Charlize Theron.

And on the actual awards side of things, certain films have the chance to add even more wins to their roster this year. Overall, The Revenant leads with 12 Oscar nominations, followed by Mad Max: Fury Road with 10 and The Martian with seven. 

Frontrunners The Revenant, Spotlight, The Big Short and Mad Max: Fury Road take on best picture nominees Bridge of Spies, The Martian, Room and Brooklyn. The Revenant enters the Oscars competition with a DGA award and a BAFTA, but Spotlight received the top SAG honor and The Big Short took home the PGA prize, and both have WGA wins this season, all of which point to a possible nod on Sunday.

The Oscars will air on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. 

Here are five reasons to pay extra attention to this year's Oscars. 

1. Chris Rock

The last time Rock hosted, Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman scored acting wins, leading the emcee to calling it the “Def Oscar Jam." Eleven years later, there are zero black acting nominees. It will be worth it to tune in just to see how he addresses (and mocks) the issue during his monologue

The #OscarsSoWhite controversy has been raging for weeks, with Rock largely staying quiet on the subject until he posted a cryptic tweet just days before the awards show that just said "See you Sunday... #blackout #oscars." In his conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Rock applauded Steve Martin and Ellen DeGeneres' hosting years, saying, "Let's not get it twisted: I'm only here because Ellen said no."

2. The new Oscars 'thank you' scroll

The days of flustered winners reading off names hastily written on napkins as music plays them off stage are over. This year, show producers Reginald Hudlin and David Hill have introduced a new scrolling feature. Each nominee has been asked to submit a list of names of people they wish to thank if they win, and as they go on stage on Sunday, those names will scroll across the bottom of the screen, much like a news ticker. 

The scroll is meant to encourage more thoughtful speeches that go beyond quickly listing off names of management teams and executives, so this year's Oscars could include far more interesting speeches than in years past. 

3. Jacob Tremblay 


Hangin' with the Champ! #sylvesterstallone #oscarslunch #creed #roomthemovie @theacademy

A photo posted by Jacob Tremblay (@jacobtremblay) on

The young Room star has captured hearts all over Hollywood with his awards-show appearances thus far, as he won a Critics' Choice Award, presented others and cheered for co-star Brie Larson all awards season.

Tremblay will present at the Oscars on Sunday, and his co-star (and his awards season's "it" girl) Larson is also nominated. We can’t wait to see what he does at the Oscars when he has stars of all kinds to pose for photos with him. 

4. Razzies 

This year's Oscar-winning crowd could very well include two Razzie Award winners (or losers, depending how one looks at it). Best actor nominee Eddie Redmayne and best supporting actress nominee Rooney Mara are also nominated for Razzie Awards, which will be given out on Saturday. The two Oscar nominees could potentially walk away with a best and a worst acting award each for the weekend. 

5. Could Leo finally win? 

And finally, Leonardo DiCaprio. Who doesn’t want to see Leo win his first-ever Oscar?

The actor has been nominated five times and still hasn't won, leading many to believe this year is finally his time. In best picture nominee The Revenant, DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, an 1800s frontiersman who is bent on revenge after being left for dead in brutal conditions. To add to all that excitement, his Titanic co-star Kate Winslet also has a chance to win an Oscar for her role in Steve Jobs, leading to a long-awaited Oscar-winning reunion for the two of them on Sunday.