7 things you need to know about Sunday’s Oscars

In 1989, the last time the Oscars went without a host, the ceremony kicked off with Merv Griffin crooning “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts,” Cyd Charisse dancing the tango and Rob Lowe singing a version of “Proud Mary” with a helium-voiced Snow White.

After seemingly everyone in Hollywood passed on this year’s hosting gig — Kevin Hart defiantly backed out after old homophobic tweets were unearthed — there’s literally no telling what to expect from the opening of the 91st Academy Awards (5 p.m. Sunday, ABC).

Christian Bale and Olivia Colman reprising their nominated roles as Dick Cheney and Queen Anne for a duet of “Shallow”? Crazier things have happened.

Here, though, are seven things you should know about this year’s Oscars:

The best picture race is wide open

Traditionally by this point, if a winner hasn’t been preordained via the awards circuit, the field at least has been winnowed to two or three realistic contenders. This year, pretty much anything could take home the top trophy and it wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Not so fast, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Between the fact that it’s not very good and the continued allegations that director Bryan Singer, who was fired during production, had sex with underage boys, the Queen biopic would be the only true stunner.

Somebody’s going to sing ‘Shallow’ — probably

It may not be Bale and Colman, but Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are scheduled to perform their smash hit live for the first time aside from Jan. 26, when Gaga pulled her “A Star Is Born” director and co-star onstage during her “Enigma” residency at Park Theater. Then again, considering all the drama surrounding this year’s broadcast — at one point, only “Shallow” and “All the Stars” from “Black Panther” were going to be highlighted in an attempt to save time — nothing is set in stone.

Social climber

It’s not quite as historic as his scaling the face of Yosemite National Park’s 3,200-foot vertical rock known as El Capitan without a rope, but Las Vegan Alex Honnold could climb onstage if “Free Solo,” which chronicled his daring feat, wins best documentary feature.

‘Roma’ makes all sorts of history

Writer-director Alfonso Cuaron’s ode to his childhood in Mexico City could become the first foreign-language film to win best picture. Cuaron already is the first nominee in the directing and cinematography categories in the same year. “Roma” is Netflix’s first nominee for best picture. Producer Gabriela Rodriguez is the first Latina in the best picture race. And “Roma’s” leading lady, first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio, is just the fourth Latina nominated for best actress and the first since Catalina Sandino Moreno for “Maria Full of Grace” in 2005.

Superheroes rising

It took a decade, but after the category was expanded from five to as many 10 nominees following the uproar over the perceived snub of “The Dark Knight.” “Black Panther” is the first superhero movie to vie for best picture. The nomination may not be merely a consolation prize, considering it took home top honors at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and actors make up the Oscars’ largest voting bloc.

So Close but yet so far

With seven career nods, including one this year for “The Wife,” Glenn Close is tied with Richard Burton for second place, behind Peter O’Toole with eight, on the list of most-nominated actors without an Oscar. “Vice” nominee Amy Adams is just behind with six nominations.

Better than fiction

Since 2004, only Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart”), Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”), Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) and Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) have won best actor Oscars for playing a fictional character. Of this year’s nominees, in addition to Bale’s turn as the former vice president, Rami Malek portrayed Freddie Mercury, Willem Dafoe starred as Vincent van Gogh and Viggo Mortensen played Tony Lip, pianist Don Shirley’s driver and bodyguard. Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine from “A Star Is Born” is the only holdout to never exist in real life.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

Entertainment Videos
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Baked Alaska a specialty at Favorite Bistro in Las Vegas
Award-winning pastry chef Claude Escamilla makes Baked Alaska with strawberry sorbet and vanilla gelato and flames it at Favorite Bistro at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chili cooks face fierce and friendly competition at Nevada cook-off
Forty chili cooks competed in the Nevada State Chili Cookoff in Pahrump on Sunday, March 17, 2019, with the winners advancing to the World Championship Chili Cook-off in Des Moines, Iowa. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door and Banksy art in Las Vegas
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door, Banksy art in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hazel in Las Vegas serves modern takes on traditional cocktails
Hazel serves modern takes on traditional cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas celebrates St. Patrick's Day
Tonight the city lit the Welcome sign green, McMullan's Irish Pub and the Guinness store also prepare for this weekend's St. Patrick's Day festivities. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Reuben sandwich at Served in Henderson, near Las Vegas
Matthew Meyer, chef/owner of Served, makes a Reuben sandwich with house-brined corned beef, house-made sauerkraut and gooey melted cheese at his restaurant in Henderson, outside Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas day club season returns with big-name DJs
Rick Ross, March 23, at Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay The Chainsmokers, March 30, at Encore Beach Club Marshmello, April 6, Kaos Dayclub at the Palms Chuckie, May 11, Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Calvin Harris, May 11, Wet Republic at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Pizza expert Chris Bianco makes meatballs in Las Vegas
Chris Bianco, who was the keynote speaker at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, demonstrates meatball making for expo attendees. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas pulmonologist talks about new movie dealing with cystic fibrosis
Dr. Craig Nakamura, Director of Cystic Fibrosis Center of Southern Nevada, talks about the upcoming romantic drama “Five Feet Apart” where both of the lead characters suffer from cystic fibrosis. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
World Pizza Champion crowned in Las Vegas
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Italian pizzaiolo Federico De Silvestri took the top prize and more than $12,000. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Italian wins Pizza Maker of the Year at Pizza Expo
Federico De Silvestri of Verona, Italy, wins the finals in the non-traditional pizza category during the International Pizza Challenge at the International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center Thursday, March 7, 2019. De Silvestri went on to beat winners from each of the four other categories — traditional, pan, pizza Napoletana and Roman — to win Pizza Maker of the Year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Good Pie Coming To Arts District
Local pizzaiolo Vincent Rotolo says Good Pie is coming to the Arts District. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local comedian says "It's ok to laugh, ...the comedy club is dark."
K-Von, a half-Persian comedian, talks about his style of comedy which keeps audiences entertained.
Pizza Dough Throwing Competition
Contestants participate in the World Pizza Games at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Wednesday night. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
World Pizza Games showcased in Las Vegas
The World Pizza Games, part of the International Pizza Expo, drew competitors from all over the world to Las Vegas to compete in events such as dough stretching and box folding. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Pizza competitors dazzle at international expo
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included the first rounds of the World Pizza Games. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas showcases products and trends
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, vegan and gluten-free menu choices and compostable packaging were highlighted, as well as Detroit-style and Roman-style pizza. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about a new restaurant
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about the construction of his new restaurant at Fremont Street’s Fergusons Downtown complex in downtown Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neon Museum lights up the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign
The Neon Museum in Las Vegas flipped the switch on its latest acquisition Monday night, the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
A Taste of Eataly Las Vegas
Executive Chef Nicole Brisson gives a tour around Eataly Las Vegas, located in the Park MGM. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Towering triple decker sandwich at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas
Jonah Resnick, executive chef of Sadelle’s, the newest restaurant at Bellagio in Las Vegas, serves a daunting concoction of roast beef layered with house-made cole slaw, turkey and more cole slaw, on rye bread. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Paris Las Vegas Debuts New Eiffel Tower Light Show
The Paris in Las Vegas unveiled its latest Eiffel Tower light show, Wednesday evening. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video: Las Vegas Omelet House Marks 40th anniversary
Omelet House at Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive in Las Vegas, which opened in 1979, is a locals’ favorite, known for fluffy six-egg omelets. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Golden Knights' Ryan Reaves readying new beer
Ryan Reaves, a forward with the Golden Knights, has plans for a second beer, a lager, through his 7Five Brewing Co. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Adds Lady Gaga To The Fountain Playlist
Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” has been added to the rotation of classic tunes played for the dancing waters at Lake Bellagio. The song debuted at 6 p.m. Monday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Comedian uses laughter to bring understanding about AIDS
Comedian Brandon Cox Sanford talks about how he uses his comedy sketches to bring light to his AIDS diagnosis. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas
Sasha Rincon-Camacho, regional marketing director, talks about the 20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Home Front Page Footer Listing