Oscars host Chris Rock has been a man of few words leading into tonight’s 88th Academy Awards, which may make the actual monologue of the usually motormouthed comedian all the more pointed.
Ever since #OscarsSoWhite became a social media trend — again — in the aftermath of the Oscar nominations, observers have been wondering what Rock will say about the controversy.
But he’s been resolutely silent except for a handful of tweets.
Rock’s hosting is only one of the big stories going into Sunday’s show.
“The Revenant” leads all films with 12 nominations and is considered the front-runner for best picture.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s 0-fer as an acting nominee, is expected to finally take home a trophy for his performance in that film, in which he played an 1820s trapper, Hugh Glass. But the film, directed by last year’s Oscar-winning director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, may fall short of best picture to other favorites, including “Spotlight” and “The Big Short.”
And Sylvester Stallone may finally win an Oscar for playing Rocky Balboa — 39 years after he first did the role.
DiCaprio told ABC that he’s nervous about his chances but proud of the film.
“I feel blessed to be able to do movies like this,” he said. “Here I am, representing a movie I feel so particularly proud of.”
All eyes on Rock
In the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, in which — for the second straight year — not a single acting nominee was a person of color, Motion Picture Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said she expected Rock to make a splash.
“We want him to (go there), obviously, because way before this, our selection of Chris was to bring some edge and some fun and some funny — intelligent funny — to the telecast,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “So we know he’s going to do that.”
Lou Gossett Jr., an Oscar winner for “An Officer and a Gentleman,” said on the red carpet that often Hollywood is ahead of society, but in the case of diversity, “society is ahead of us.”
Common, who won an Oscar last year for his song “Glory,” said the film community is aware there’s a problem, but now it’s time “to work toward a solution.”
“I know we’re going to make this change,” he said on the red carpet.
Some celebrities were attending an event in Flint, Michigan, #JusticeForFlint. The concert was organized by directors Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) and Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) and is calling attention to the water crisis in the Michigan city.
Other celebrities decided to make a point by avoiding the Oscar entirely, including Spike Lee. His snub was particularly pointed, as he received an honorary Oscar in November.
Still, Lee said Rock can do what he likes.
“Chris Rock is a grown-a** man,” Lee told “Good Morning America.” “He’s just going to do what he wants to do, and I support either way.”
Music and ‘In Memoriam’
What else can you expect?
Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and the Weeknd will perform their best song nominees.
There will be an “In Memoriam” sequence that the Internet, noticing a missing favorite, will complain about.
And there might be a protest or two, whether by a winner or by the orchestra, straining to play off an overly effusive trophy holder.
Will one of them be “The Revenant”? It may make for quite a contrast Sunday night: a room full of celebrities dressed to the nines honoring a film involving a man who slept in an animal carcass.
Imagine what Rock will have to say about that.
The 88th Academy Awards will air today from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.