Hard to believe it’s been an entire year, but the Academy Awards are finally back, so set your (sprung ahead) clocks for 8pm ET / 5pm PT Sunday nights — or as early as 1pm ET if you want to catch red carpet coverage. To get get up to speed on the contenders, see our guides below. But first…
Why even care about the Oscars this year? One one level, thanks to last year’s slap shocker, the Oscars have earned more coverage and driven (far) more conversation than in previous years. They also have more range and broader appeal this year, with nominees in major categories including the biggest blockbusters — like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water — along with smaller art house films like Everything Everywhere All at Once and Women Talking.
But after three years of isolation and our increasingly fragmented viewing experiences, the Academy Awards have also become an increasingly rare tent pole watch, one of the last touchstones that can unite wide swaths of American and international audiences…all at the same time.
The importance of the Oscars — to our collective psyches, our inner dreamers, and the business of entertainment — can’t be underestimated. As the Ankler’s Richard Rushfield explains, “it’s an enormously important part of the Hollywood firmament. Every billionaire and CEO at some day in their life says, ‘You know, what I should be doing is making a movie.’ And what they picture is seeing themselves up on the Oscar stage with the most beautiful people in the world.” It’s a powerful motivator that drives the business that shapes culture, perhaps as potent as the Oscar-nominated films themselves.
The need-to-know for the 95th Academy Awards
This year, steady hand Jimmy Kimmel returns to host on ABC, and there are plenty of fresh controversies swirling, not to mention a crisis team on hand to respond to any unplanned events. So expect this one to be more tense — and interesting — than years past.
Where and when to watch the red carpet? ABC is starting its On the Red Carpet show early this year, 1pm ET /10am PT. As always, E! will broadcast its own red carpet start at 2pm/11am. You’ll need cable or a pay TV provider like YouTube TV and Hulu Plus Live TV in order to watch both. What to look for? “Happy colors” and “Opera Coats,” according to the stylists.
Where and when to watch the ceremony? As usual they’re on ABC, but you can also watch on ABC.com or the ABC app — but you’ll need to be an “authenticated user-subscribers” via a cable provider or a Hulu Live, YouTube Live or Fubo TV.
What’s new this year? Aside from the crisis team? Well, for the first time in 88 years, all Best Actor nominees are first-timers: Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Paul Mescal (Aftersun), Bill Nighy (Living). The first four have all won major awards leading up the event, so the final award is up for grabs.
Michelle Yeoh also makes history as the first-ever Asian American woman nominated for Best Actress, and the red carpet has been replaced with a “champagne” carpet, just to stir up the “visual effect.”
Who can we expect to see? Not Tom Cruise. He’s bowed out. But plenty of star power will be in the house and up on stage. Musical performances include Rihanna, Lenny Kravitz, Diane Warren and Sophie Carson, and David Byrne will be performing with Son Lux and Stephanie Hsu.
As for the presenters, the one’s who’ve been announced include (in alphabetical order): Riz Ahmed, Halle Bailey, Antonio Banderas, Elizabeth Banks, Halle Berry, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, John Cho, Glenn Close, Jennifer Connelly, Ariana DeBose, Paul Dano, Cara Delevingne, Harrison Ford, Andrew Garfield, Hugh Grant, Danai Gurira, Salma Hayek Pinault, Kate Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B. Jordan, Mindy Kaling, Nicole Kidman, Troy Kotsur, Eva Longoria, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Andie MacDowell, Jonathan Majors, Melissa McCarthy, Janelle Monáe, Elizabeth Olsen, Deepika Padukone, Pedro Pascal, Florence Pugh, Questlove, Zoe Saldaña, John Travolta, Sigourney Weaver and Donnie Yen.
Expect some unannounced presenters as well, but surely no one will go off scripts.
What Else to Watch: Three Weekend Picks
A Spy Among Friends
If you need a break from all the Academy Awards hullubaloo, check out this new cerebral Cold War-era thriller miniseries from the UK, A Spy Among Friends. Based on a true story, it promises more than boilerplate spy mystery. Damian Lewis (Billions, Homeland) and Guy Pearce (Memento, Mare of Easttown) play close friends and colleagues in MI6 whose relationship is thrown asunder by the revelation that one of them is a Soviet double agent.
Why it’s worth watching:
A Spy Among Friends uncovers a key, often unspoken tension in the spy genre; As AV Club writer Manuel Betancourt puts it, “[it] depends on a timeless mantra— ‘trust no one’—that seems to stand in clear contradistinction to what one expects from one’s friendships.” Critics appreciate the clever, subtle working of the story and its use of fast-paced dialogue. Sunday Times writer Victoria Segal writes, “isn’t just about the brainy mechanics of espionage, it also interrogates the multifaceted human beings tangled in its webs.”
Stream A Spy Among Friends on MGM+ starting Sunday March 12th.
We have finished #ASpyAmongFriends and it was like a classic BBC2 drama from our past. Something elegiac about it. Immersion in character rather than falsely twisted and sensationalist plot. Brave cinematography – the light and dark. I cried. The umbrella. Bravo. @nickmurftweets
— Watford&Essex 🇺🇦 (@EssexWatford) March 7, 2023
If you’re ready to lose yourself in a new comedy-drama, our writers recommend Kerry Washington’s UnPrisoned on Hulu. The Little Fires Everywhere star plays a successful relationship therapist raising a teenage son whose life threatens to capsize after her father (Delroy Lindo) who just finished a 17-year prison sentence, moves in with them. Created by Mad Men writer Tracy McMillan, UnPrisoned balances its heavy themes with levity and a sense of humor.
Why it’s worth watching:
UnPrisoned promises to be a unique series that explores the implications of incarceration on a family and the funny-because-it’s-real dynamics it creates in its wake. Critics love the unexpected way Washington’s character is affected by her father’s presence, as it threatens to teach as much as it does to topple. Chicago Tribune’s Nina Metz writes, “The series has a terrific snap to it, with an ear attuned to banter that touches on — and sometimes deflects — deeper issues. The combination works because it’s not glib, but a coping mechanism for both.” Critics also appreciate Lindo’s performance as the father, whose charisma comes in tandem with the burden of his history.
Read an interview with Washington and showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser on why a story of re-entry is an important, healing story to tell right now.
Stream UnPrisoned starting Friday, March 10th on Hulu.
Luther: The Fallen Sun
A film continuation of the acclaimed British crime thriller series of the same name, Luther: The Fallen Sun moved to the top of many Netflix charts around the world within 24 hours of its premiere. It stars Idris Elba (The Wire, Thor) as the brilliant detective from the series, now stuck behind bars while a tech billionaire-cum-serial killer, played by Andy Serkis (Planet of the Apes, The Batman), terrorizes London. The creators crafted the gritty tale with both die-hards and newcomers in mind and picks up where the series left off.
Why it’s worth watching:
Fans of the series will be rewarded with a movie-length version of the titular detective’s escapades. Critics generally agree Elba’s boundless charisma and mastery of the character he’s inhabited since 2010 is the film’s main energy source. As Roger Ebert writer Isaac Feldberg puts it, “It’s Elba’s mercurial screen presence, all rumpled gravitas and movie-star smolder, that fills out the character with something special.” Critics also praised Serkis’ antagonist with a knack for pulpy theatrics. The film’s high budget also manifests in impressive settings, like turning Piccadilly Square into a high-action warzone. Though some critics argue that it fails to up the ante of the series, it’s buoyed by the lived-in style of actors playing roles they’ve gotten to know well.
Stream Luther: The Fallen Son starting Friday, March 10th on Netflix.
#LutherTheFallenSun is incredible! So glad I got to see it on the big screen. One of my favourite shows and the movie is amazing. Great performances, thrilling, gritty and intense. So happy to see it transition so well into a film. pic.twitter.com/xAPvRUKDFv
— Walter Robinson (@WalterR82509355) February 28, 2023