Oscars arrive with chilly forecast, tight security

The shortest awards season in memory will come to a close Sunday evening with the 92nd Academy Awards arriving with wintry weather in the forecast.

The Oscars are taking place two weeks earlier than last year as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences aims to alleviate viewer fatigue with awards shows. The ceremony will go emcee-free for the second year in a row in a bid to keep the show from seeming bloated. The 92nd Academy Awards are produced by Lynette Howell Taylor (“A Star Is Born”) and Stephanie Allain (“Dear White People”) with Glenn Weiss serving as director.

The show begins at 5 p.m. PST Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, with Oscars presented in 24 categories. ABC will televise the ceremony in the U.S., where producers are hopeful that the broadcast will continue last year’s upward trend, when the show drew 29.6 million viewers and reversed its ratings slide.

Prospects for decent ratings have been goosed by the fact that five of the best picture nominees have topped $100 million at the domestic box office: “Joker,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “1917,” “Ford v Ferrari” and “Little Women.”

Traffic in Hollywood will be tightly controlled Sunday, as the LAPD works to wrap the Dolby in multiple cordons of security, according to public information officer Jeff Lee.

“We never give out numbers but the public can expect a heavy police presence,” Lee said. “It’s not going to be significantly different from a year ago. We are going to deploy enough officers to ensure the safe passage of everyone.”

Nearly a mile of Hollywood Boulevard will be closed, from Cahuenga Boulevard to La Brea Avenue. The Red Line stop at Hollywood and Highland will also be closed all day on Sunday, keeping passengers outside the security perimeter.

The pre-Oscars guild awards have elevated the fortunes of Sam Mendes’ World War I epic “1917” and Bong Joon Ho’s thriller “Parasite” as the frontrunners for the Academy Award for best picture. “Parasite” would be the first non-English film to win the top prize. The season has also put a dent in the hopes for Netflix’s “The Irishman,” which received 10 Oscar nominations and has struck out since on the awards circuit.

The safest bets during awards season have been in the acting categories. Joaquin Phoenix is expected to win best actor for “Joker” and Renee Zellweger should take best actress for bringing to life an aging Judy Garland in “Judy.” Brad Pitt is viewed as a lock to win the best supporting actor category for his effortless portrayal of a stuntman/sidekick in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

The Jan. 13 nominations announcement was perhaps most notable for what it did not include. The Academy did not nominate any female directors and the acting categories featured yet another stunning lack of diversity, four years after the fallout of #OscarsSoWhite pushed the organization to revamp its membership. Cynthia Erivo is the only actor of color nominated for her searing portrayal of Harriet Tubman in the biopic “Harriet.”

The Oscars are arriving with the North American movie business rebounding somewhat from last year’s slump, when overall box office declined 4% to $11.5 billion while international box office jumped 7.7% to $31.1 billion. Disney, which bought 20th Century Fox last spring, dominated on both fronts. The studio isn’t much of a player at the Oscars, with its most probable wins coming from best animated feature with “Toy Story 4” and editing for the Fox film “Ford v Ferrari.”

The official pre-show will begin at 3:30 p.m. PST on ABC. Among the presenters at the host-free show: Tom Hanks, Maya Rudolph, Spike Lee, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Chris Rock, Timothee Chalamet, Will Ferrell, Diane Keaton and Kelly Marie Tran.