EntertainmentThings To Do


Oscars get underway with a win for Da'Vine Joy Randolph, protests for Gaza rage outside ceremony

Da'Vine Joy Randolph accepts the award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role for "The Holdovers" during the Oscars on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Posted at 5:18 PM, Mar 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-10 22:43:36-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An election-year Academy Awards got underway Sunday with protests for Gaza raging outside the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, a few cutting remarks from host Jimmy Kimmel and an Oscar for Da'Vine Joy Randolph for her performance in “The Holdovers.”

Kimmel, emceeing the ABC telecast for the fourth time, opened the 96th Academy Awards with an opening monologue that drew a few cold looks (from Robert Downey Jr., Sandra Hüller and Messi, the dog from best-picture nominee “Anatomy of a Fall”). But Kimmel, emphasizing Hollywood as “a union town” following 2023's actor and writer strikes, drew a standing ovation for bringing out teamsters and behind-the-scenes workers — who are now entering their own labor negotiations.

Accepting the night's first award, an emotional Randolph was accompanied to the stage by her “Holdovers” co-star Paul Giamatti.

“For so long I've always wanted to be different,” said Randolph. "And now I realize I just need to be myself."

Though Randolph’s win was widely expected, an upset quickly followed. Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron” won for best animated feature, a surprise over the favored “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” Miyazaki, the 83-year-old Japanese anime master who came out of retirement to make “The Boy and the Heron,” didn’t attend the ceremony. He also didn’t attend the 2003 Oscars when his “Spirited Away” won the same award.

Protests over Israel’s war in Gaza snarled traffic around the Academy Awards on Sunday, slowing stars' arrival at the red carpet and turning the Oscar spotlight toward the ongoing conflict.

Scattered demonstrations were held in the vicinity around the Oscars on Sunday. Los Angeles police, which had expected protests, beefed up their already extensive presence. The Dolby Theatre and the red carpet leading into it are cordoned off for several blocks in every direction.

But protesters carrying signs and chanting for ceasefire disrupted traffic near security checkpoints on Sunset Blvd. Some arrivals were slowed by as much as an hour. Some protesters shouted “Shame!” at those trying to reach the Oscars. Police in helmets and wielding batons declared an unlawful assembly and threatened arrest.

Several attendees, including Billie Eilish and Finneas, best song nominees for “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie,” wore pins for Gaza. Ava DuVernay and Ramy Youssef were also among those wearing pins.

Best original screenplay went to “Anatomy of a Fall,” which, like “Barbie," was penned by a couple: director Justine Triet and Arthur Harari. “This will help me through my midlife crisis, I think," said Triet.

In adapted screenplay, where “Barbie” was nominated — and where some suspected Greta Gerwig would win after being overlooked for director — the Oscar went to Cord Jefferson, who wrote and directed his feature film debut “American Fiction.” He pleaded for executives to take risks on young filmmakers like himself.

“Instead of making a $200 million movie, try making 20 $10 million movies,” said Jefferson, previously an award-winning TV writer.

The Oscars kicked off an hour early, due to daylight savings time. But aside from the time shift, this year’s show went for tried-and-true Academy Awards traditions. Kimmel is back as host. Past winners flocked back as presenters. And a big studio epic wass poised for a major awards haul.

“Oppenheimer,” the blockbuster biopic, is widely expected to overpower all competition — including its release-date companion, “Barbie” — at an election-year Oscars that could turn into a coronation for Christopher Nolan.

Still, much is circling around this year’s show. Aside from the Israel-Hamas war, the war in Ukraine will be on some attendees’ minds, particularly those of the journalist filmmakers behind the documentary favorite, “20 Days in Mariupol.”

“Our hearts are in Ukraine,” said Mstyslav Chernov, the Ukrainian filmmaker and AP journalist who directed “20 Days in Mariupol.”

And with the presidential election in full swing, politics could be an unavoidable topic despite an awards season that’s played out largely in a vacuum.

Kimmel didn't mention either candidate in his opening monologue, but did take one jab at Republican Sen. Katie Britt, who gave the response to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address. Kimmel mentioned the much-nominated “Poor Things,” as the story about an adult woman with the brain of a child.

“Like the lady who gave the rebuttal for the state of the union,” said Kimmel.

Hollywood also has plenty of its own storm clouds to concern itself with.

The 2023 movie year was defined by a prolonged strike over the future of an industry that’s reckoning with the onset of streaming, artificial intelligence and shifting moviegoer tastes that have tested even the most bankable brands. The academy, while also widely nominating films like “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Poor Things,” embraced both “Oppenheimer,” the lead nominee with 13 nods, and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” the year’s biggest hit with more than $1.4 billion in ticket sales and eight nominations.

With the forecasted “Oppenheimer” romp, the night’s biggest drama is in the best actress category. Emma Stone (“Poor Things”) and Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) are nearly even-odds to win. While an Oscar for Stone, who won for her performance “La La Land,” would be her second statuette, an win for Gladstone would make Academy Awards history. No Native American has ever won a competitive Oscar.

While “Barbie” bested (and helped lift) “Oppenheimer” at the box office, it appears likely it will take a back seat to Nolan’s film at the Oscars. Gerwig was notably overlooked for best director, sparking an outcry that some, even Hillary Clinton, said mimicked the patriarchy parodied in the film.

Historically, having big movies in the mix for the Oscars’ top awards has been good for broadcast ratings. The Academy Awards’ largest audience ever came when James Cameron’s “Titanic” swept the 1998 Oscars.

Last year’s ceremony, where a very different best-picture contender in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” triumphed, was watched by 18.7 million people, up 12% from the year prior. ABC and the academy are hoping to continue the upward trend after a nadir in 2021, when 9.85 million watched a pandemic-diminished telecast relocated to Los Angeles’ Union Station.