After months of speculation, controversy, and movie-watching, the 2019 Oscars are about to arrive — without a host and with lots of potential for chaos. The 91st Academy Awards will air live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 24, at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific on ABC. The awards will also stream live on Oscars.com and the Academy’s Facebook page.
This year’s ceremony has existed beneath a cloud of controversy dating back to August 2018, when the Academy announced a number of changes aimed at buoying the telecast’s dipping audience numbers — such as introducing a category for “popular film” (an idea that was immediately panned and eventually postponed) and shortening the show to three hours.
Several months later, widespread backlash arose after Kevin Hart was announced as host — and old homophobic tweets resurfaced — causing Hart to step down and leading the Academy to plan a host-free broadcast for the first time since 1989.
A number of other controversial changes were announced in the runup to the ceremony, some of which were swiftly retracted after outcry from Academy members. Confusion and contention seemed to be endless in the last few weeks before the ceremony — especially after the Academy announced that the awards for Cinematography, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Live Action Short would be handed out during commercial breaks, and the winners’ speeches edited and aired later during the broadcast. Though the change was intended to help limit the broadcast to a three-hour runtime, after a near-revolt within its ranks, the Academy backtracked and confirmed that all 24 categories will air live.
So even before Sunday’s broadcast begins, uncertainty has already been established as a theme of the evening. Nobody’s sure how long the broadcast will last, how the transitions between presentations will go, or whether the speeches will comment on the chaos — let alone ongoing issues in the industry like representation of women and people of color, or the still-roiling aftereffects of the #MeToo revelations that started coming out in October 2016 with accusations of sexual assault against Hollywood heavy hitter Harvey Weinstein.
Which movies and actors will win is also largely up in the air. The usual harbingers of Oscar success — especially guild awards — have been spread among many of the contenders, with no clear frontrunner emerging, particularly with regard to Best Picture. Roma and The Favourite are tied for the most nominations at 10 apiece, and A Star Is Born is close behind with eight. But the five other Best Picture nominees — Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Vice, and Green Book — have also nabbed wins throughout the season.
This all means that what’s going to happen at the 91st Oscars is really anyone’s guess, on multiple levels — especially without a host at the helm. So in the end, the broadcast may be more unpredictable, and more interesting, than usual.
How to watch the 2019 Oscars
When: Sunday, February 24, at 8 pm Eastern/5 pm Pacific. ABC’s red-carpet coverage begins at 5:30 pm Eastern/2:30 pm Pacific on ABC News Live.
You can also live-stream the ceremony at ABC.com or on the ABC app, provided you have a cable TV provider login and are in one of the following markets: Chicago, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, or San Francisco. DirecTV customers can watch the ABC live stream in these markets: Albuquerque, Boston, Fort Smith/Fayetteville, Jackson (Mississippi), Kansas City, Milwaukee, Monterey-Salinas, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Pittsburgh, Portland-Auburn (Maine), Savannah, and West Palm Beach.
Several subscription-based TV streaming services, including Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Sling TV, DirecTV, and PlayStation Vue, will also stream the Oscars via ABC.
Host: There’s no host in 2019, for the first time in 30 years. But a star-studded array of presenters will be on hand to give out the awards.