Entertainment

Here are seven milestones and storylines to watch for at the Academy Awards

Key Points
  • Audiences are likely to see a number of milestones set during Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony.
  • Apple TV+ and Netflix are vying to become the first streaming service to win Best Picture.
  • If Ariana DeBose takes home the best supporting actress award on Sunday, she will become the first queer woman of color to win an acting Oscar.
  • Kristen Stewart could be the first best actress winner at the Oscars who was not nominated for a BAFTA or a SAG award.
Ariana DeBose stars as Anita in Steven Spielberg's new "West Side Story" movie.
20th Century Studios

LOS ANGELES – Hollywood's biggest night is Sunday, and there could be plenty of history made.

With the diversity in this year's crop of Oscar nominees, audiences are likely to see a number of milestones set. The academy often is criticized for a lack of diversity in its nominations. And while there are some clear front-runners for the 94th annual Academy Awards, there's still room for underdogs to snag an upset in several categories.

There's also plenty of controversy, too. This year, the show has come under fire for its decision to present some awards before the live broadcast begins and then edit those winners into the show later.

The eight awards that are set to be announced prior to the broadcast are for live action short, animated short, short documentary, editing, score, hair and makeup, sound and production design.

The trio of Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes will assume hosting duties during Sunday's ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. For the last three years, the show has not had a host.

Heading into Sunday's ceremony, Steven Spielberg has already become the first director to be nominated across six decades, earning nods for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" in the '70s, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" in the '80s, "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan" in the '90s, "Munich" in the '00s, "Lincoln" in the '10s and now "West Side Story."

Kenneth Branagh also made history during last month's nominations, having garnered seven nominations in seven different categories throughout his career. His film "Belfast" earned him a best director nomination as well as one for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.

Additionally, Lin-Manuel Miranda could become the 17th person to complete an "EGOT" sweep — winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards — if he picks up the trophy for Best Original Song. Miranda has already won two Emmys, three Grammys and three Tony awards.

Here's a look at seven milestones that could be reached during Sunday's ceremony:

First streaming service to win Best Picture

The front-runner for this year's Best Picture is Netflix's "Power of the Dog." If the Jane Campion-directed film earns the top prize of the night, it will become the first film produced by a streaming service to win the Best Picture award.

Also in contention is Apple's "CODA."

In the last decade, streaming services have become more competitive at the Academy Awards, going beyond just securing nominations to earning winning top awards. Netflix's "Roma" garnered three wins in 2019, taking home awards for cinematography, directing and best foreign film.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in "The Power of the Dog" on Netflix.
Netflix

Best Picture winner's remake winning Best Picture

While many foresee "Power of the Dog" securing the Best Picture win, if Spielberg's "West Side Story" takes home the prize, it will be the first remake of a previous Best Picture winner to win the award.

Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins' 1961 adaptation of "West Side Story" earned the trophy 60 years prior.

Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," based on the Hong Kong thriller "Infernal Affairs," and the 1959 "Ben-Hur," following 1925's silent epic, are the only remakes to ever win Best Picture.

Additionally, if "West Side Story" wins, it will be the first musical to win the top prize since 2003, when "Chicago" earned the Best Picture win.

First queer woman of color to win acting award

If Ariana DeBose takes home the best supporting actress award on Sunday, as many assume she will, she will become the first queer woman of color to win an acting Oscar.

She would also be the second Latina to win, following co-star Rita Moreno, who won for the same role in the 1961 version of "West Side Story."

There have only been two other instances in Academy history where actors won Oscars for playing the same character. Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro both earned awards for portraying Don Vito Corleone, and Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix both won for their take on the Joker.

Overcoming BAFTA and SAG snubs

The lead actress race has been tight over the awards season. Jessica Chastain, who is nominated for her starring role in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," is the only one of the five nominees to win more than one statuette at a televised ceremony. One was a Critics Choice award, and one was a SAG award.

Penelope Cruz, nominated for "Parallel Mothers," is also a strong contender. However, if Kristen Stewart wins for her role as Princess Diana in "Spencer," she will be the first best actress winner at the Oscars who was not nominated for a BAFTA or a SAG award.

Only two actors have done this, and in supporting roles: Marcia Gay Harden for 2001's "Pollock" and Regina King for 2018's "If Beale Street Could Talk."

Kristen Stewart stars as Princess Diana in "Spencer."
Neon

The oldest Oscar winner

If Dame Judi Dench snags the best supporting actress award, she will be the oldest Oscar winner ever. She was nominated for her role in Kenneth Branagh's "Belfast."

The current record holder is Anthony Hopkins, who won the 2021 best actor award for his role in "The Father." He was 83. Dench is 87.

First deaf actor winner

The best supporting actor category is a tight race coming into Sunday's ceremony. Ciaran Hinds ("Belfast"), Troy Kotsur ("CODA") and Kodi Smit-McPhee ("Power of the Dog") appear to be the three front-runners.

If Kotsur takes home the prize, he will be the first deaf actor to ever win an Academy Award and the second deaf person to take home the trophy in an acting category. His co-star, Marlee Matlin, won for "Children of a Lesser God" in 1987.

If Smit-McPhee wins, he will be the second-youngest actor to take home the prize. Timothy Hutton won the best supporting actor category in 1980 at the age of 18 for "Ordinary People." Smit-McPhee is 25.

A trifecta for Jane Campion

Jane Campion is already the first women to be nominated in the directing category twice, but has a chance to be the first woman to win best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay.

She won the award for best original screenplay for "The Piano" in 1994 and could be the first woman to win in both screenplay categories if she takes home the trophy for best adapted screenplay on Sunday.

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