Host Chris Rock is going to go full comedic activist.
Leonardo DiCaprio could finally get his first Oscar.
And Lady Gaga and Vice President Joe Biden are going to get serious about sexual assault.
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In this second year of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the red carpet conversations might be racier than the dresses. But I won’t lie to you. I’ll be checking for the dresses, too.
Oh, and I know they like to keep the In Memoriam segment classy, but wouldn’t it be awesome if they showed us David Bowie’s Magic Dance scene in “Labyrinth”? Yes. But they won’t do it. We also won’t get to see which curiously cute way Jennifer Lawrence trips and falls, because apparently she has no chance of winning this year.
But I do have plenty of reasons to tune into 2016’s big show. Here are my top six:
1. Rock the mic
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael Moore and Spike Lee are boycotting the Oscars to protest the lack of diversity. Directors Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler, along with KCK queen Janelle Monáe and more, will skip to host #JusticeForFlint to raise awareness and money for victims of the Michigan water crisis. I applaud them all for doing the right thing.
But you know who else will be exactly where he’s needed? Chris Rock. Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Martin were amazing hosts, but there is no one I would rather see emceeing this year than Rock, who hosted once before in 2005. He’s been silent on the controversy. He canceled all press. He never finished a half-done interview and cover story for The Hollywood Reporter.
For weeks, his only comment was a tweet pinned to the top of his Twitter page: “The #Oscars. The White BET Awards.” Until Friday morning, when he tweeted this:
He’s fearless, intelligent and in touch with the issues in America. I cannot wait for him to keep censors on their toes as he gives Hollywood a wake-up call Sunday night.
2. Give Leo that Oscar
Let’s be real: This award isn’t so much about his brilliant suffering through a bear attack in “The Revenant.” It’s about his body of work. This man has been wowing us since he was a boy in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” over 20 years ago. Leonardo DiCaprio’s been earning Oscar nominations ever since. He’s the Susan Lucci of big-brand Hollywood. Make it stop.
I can’t take another furrowed eyebrow and fake gracious smile. Let Leo shine. It will make for great television.
3. Addressing the real monsters
Lady Gaga is known for wowing her little monsters, but when she released the video for “Til It Happens to You,” she put the real bogeymen on blast. As the theme for “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary exploring rape on college campuses, the song captured the fear and pain of sexual assault. The single, which she co-wrote with Diane Warren, is the front-runner to win best original song, and Lady Gaga is going to give a grand performance.
It doesn’t stop there. Vice President Joe Biden will introduce her and address sexual assualt awareness. According to the Department of Justice, 80 percent of student cases are never brought to police; for non-students, that’s 68 percent. That’s a real American horror story.
(Also performing: The Weeknd with “Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey” and Sam Smith singing “Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre.”)
4. All the feels
There’s a lot of anger over the academy’s whitewashed ways, but I feel joy about one thing: “Inside Out.” I got a package from my best friend this week — a collection of coffee mugs inspired by Pixar’s emotional characters. The movie, an animated guide on the importance of leaning into your feelings, is one of our favorite movies from last year.
I’m still disgusted that Oscar snubbed “The Peanuts Movie,” but I so look forward to “Inside Out” taking the statuette for best animated feature. And I wonder if writer/director Pete Docter will bring his daughter — the inspiration behind the brilliant film — on stage. It’s what Bing Bong (my favorite character) would do.
5. Will things get Rocky?
Sylvester Stallone may have initially forgotten to thank “Creed” director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan when he won best supporting actor at the Golden Globes, but he almost boycotted the Oscars to protest the lack of diversity in Hollywood. Coogler told him to go and represent the film.
“It’s just a matter of getting a new paragon, a new way of thinking, and it’s going to happen,” Stallone told media at the Oscars luncheon earlier this month. “I really do owe everything to these two young men.”
I loved Rocky as a kid, and I enjoyed Stallone’s revival of the character. He’s favored to win his first Oscar Sunday, and I’m hoping his speech is a knockout.
6. Gratitude in 140 characters or less?
The Oscars are not here for that long list of shout-outs. This year, nominees were asked to submit a list of the people they wish to thank. If they win, those names will scroll along the bottom of our television screens.
Basically, they’re expected to use their allotted 45 seconds to say something meaningful. I understand the academy wants to save time, but I cannot wait to see who still gets silenced with the wrap-it-up music. If Leo finally has his moment, he deserves some time to enjoy it y’all.
Where to watch
The Academy Awards ceremony will air at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on ABC, with red carpet coverage beforehand on ABC and E!