'Oppenheimer' is poised to win Sunday night's Oscars

LOS ANGELES — Hi, „Oppenheimer.”

The Oscars begin Sunday at 7 p.m. EDT on ABC, an hour earlier than usual due to daylight saving time. But aside from the time change, this year's show is going with many tried-and-true Academy Awards traditions. Jimmy Kimmel is back as host. Past winners return as hosts. And a major studio epic is poised for a major awards haul.

Still, much revolves around the show this year. Demonstrators are expected to protest the Israel-Hamas war near the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Police have already stepped up their heavy presence. The war in Ukraine will be on the minds of some participants, especially the journalist-filmmakers behind the documentary „20 Days in Mariupol.” With the presidential election in full swing, politics can be an inevitable topic, despite an awards season that has played out in a vacuum.

Hollywood also has its own storm clouds.

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How to see

What's up for the telecast?

Past winners in each acting category will announce winners for the first time since 2009. Among the many announced presenters: Zendaya, Al Pacino, Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Yeoh, Steven Spielberg, Dwayne Johnson, Matthew McConaughey, Lupita Nyong'o, Mahershala Ali, Nicolas Cage and Bad Bunny.

All of the Best Original Song nominees will perform, including the winner „What Was I Made For” from „Barbie,” performed by Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell. Others: „I'm Ken,” Ryan Gosling and Mark Ronson; Becky G to perform from „The Fire Inside,” „Flamin' Hot,”; John Bautista's „It Never Went Away” from „American Symphony”; and „Wahjashe (Song for My People)” from „Killers of the Flower Moon” performed by Scott George and the Osage Singers.

Who are the favorites?

„Oppenheimer” won the producers', directors' and actors' associations and is the clear front-runner for best picture. The film is also expected to be successful in many categories. Nolan is expected to win his first Best Director Oscar, while Robert Downey Jr. (Best Supporting Actor) and Cillian Murphy (Best Actor) are also tipped to win their first Academy Awards. Paul Giamatti („The Holdovers”) could challenge Murphy.

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With the predictable „Oppenheimer” cheers, the biggest drama of the night is in the Best Actress category. Emma Stone (“Worse Things”) and Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) are almost even-odds to win. Although Stone won her second Oscar for her performance in „La La Land,” Gladstone's win would make Academy Awards history. No Native American has ever won a competitive Oscar.

While „Barbie” bested (and helped boost) „Oppenheimer” at the box office, it appears that Nolan's film will take a back seat at the Oscars. Gerwig was overlooked for Best Director, sparking an outcry that some, even Hillary Clinton, said reflected the patriarchy parodied in the film.

As a supporting actress, Davin Joy Randolph has been a lock all season for her performance in Alexander Payne's „The Holdovers.”

What else to look for?

Composer John Williams, 92, is expected to attend the ceremony for his 49th nomination for best score for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” It received a nomination for “Best Visual Effects.

For the first time, two non-English-language films are up for best picture: the German-language Auschwitz drama „The Zone of Interest” and the French courtroom drama „Anatomy of a Fall.” „The Zone of Interest” is the favorite to win Best International Film.

Historically, having big movies in the mix for the Oscars has been good for broadcast ratings. The biggest audience at the Academy Awards came when James Cameron's „Titanic” won the 1998 Oscar.

18.7 million people watched last year's ceremony, which saw „Everything Everywhere All At Ones” win a very different Best Picture contender, up 12% from the previous year. ABC and the Academy hope to continue the upward trend after a nadir in 2021, when 9.85 million people tuned in for a pandemic-less telecast that moved to Los Angeles' Union Station.

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Follow AP film writer Jake Coyle: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

___ For more information on this year's Academy Awards, visit: https://apnews.com/hub/academy-awards

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