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The Oscars

Jimmy Kimmell returns for the fourth time to host Hollywood’s biggest night

The calendar has been shaken up this entertainment award season, but the movie industry’s top ceremony is remaining pretty much on time . . . while starting an hour earlier than usual.

The 96th Academy Awards will celebrate the best in film as ABC and CTV televise the event, live from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.

ABC’s late-night star, Jimmy Kimmel, will be back for his fourth turn as Oscars host. His wife, Molly McNearney, has her second consecutive year as an executive producer of the event (a job she also performs, along with that of co-head writer, on her spouse’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! weeknight program.

In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, the funnyman admitted that nobody is more surprised that he keeps on coming back to the Oscars than he is.

“I did not think I would ever do it again,” Kimmel said. “I did two of them, and they went well — something crazy happened at one of them with a story I’ll have for the rest of my life,” he added, referencing when presenters Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were handed the wrong envelope, and announced the wrong winner in the Best Picture category. “I know how much work goes into them, so I thought, ‘Yeah, I don’t necessarily want to do this ever again.’ ”

What changed his mind in 2023, he explained, was the fact that Top Gun: Maverick received so many nominations. “I knew there was a movie that people had seen, and it just makes the job easier,” he said. “Then this year, I am sitting in a movie theatre watching Barbie and thinking, ‘Well, maybe I’ll do this again, because at least I have a point of reference with everyone.’ ”

Viewers can expect Kimmel to make reference to last year’s strikes that upended show business, with the work stoppages by writers and actors delaying — or, in some cases, cancelling — the production of movies and altering release schedules. Some of this year’s Academy Award-nominated films had far less press than they might have received otherwise, since their stars couldn’t promote those pictures as part of the union agreement during the actors’ strike.

However, a big turnout by Hollywood can be expected now, with the red carpet arrivals of many personalities again being the draw for worldwide interest and attention that they typically are. There’s also potential for the unexpected, as recent Oscars shows have confirmed, whether that amounts to surprise winners or shocking comments/face-slaps by those who take the stage.

Oppenheimer leads the current group of nominated films with 13 bids, followed by Poor Things with 11, Killers of the Flower Moon with 10, Barbie with eight — and controversy over its lack of nominations for Margot Robbie as Best Actress and Greta Gerwig as Best Director — and Maestro with seven.

This year’s hottest race will be for Best Picture. The 10 nominees are: American Fiction, Anatomy of a Fall, Barbie, The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, Oppenheimer, Past Lives, Poor Things and The Zone of Interest.

The Oscars airs on Sunday, March 10, on CTV & ABC

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