Five things to watch for at this year's Oscars
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After a week of momentous political news — with the Iowa caucus debacle, a State of the Union address and impeachment dominating headlines — the nation’s eyes turn to Hollywood and the Oscars on Sunday night.

For the second year in a row, the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles will go sans host, with no major star headlining the gala airing on ABC at 8 p.m. Eastern. Yet despite a likely monologue-less evening, controversies could arise at the 92nd annual Oscars amid the scorching hot political climate.

Here are five things to watch for at this year’s ceremony:


Calls for greater diversity

This year’s awards could prove to be #OscarsSoWhite redux. The hashtag began trending back in 2016, when no black actors were nominated in the four acting categories for the second straight year. At the time, then-Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs called for “big changes” in the makeup of members who voted for the Oscars.

This time around, “Harriet” star Cynthia Erivo is the sole Oscar contender of color among the 20 nominees in acting categories.

There’s also a notable lack of women competing in another prominent category. The nominees for best director are all male, despite a historic number of women directing top films last year.

While announcing the best director nominees in January, actress Issa Rae noted the lack of gender diversity, saying, “Congratulations to those men.”

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMedia circles wagons for conspiracy theorist Neera Tanden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Senate ref axes minimum wage, House votes today on relief bill Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm MORE also lamented the shut-out of women directors in an interview last month, saying, “I think it’s really a shame, especially because there were so many notable films this year by women directors.”

On Friday, Democratic Rep. Linda SanchezLinda Teresa SánchezPrivacy, immigrant rights groups slam Biden's 'smart wall' proposal The Memo: Biden bets big on immigration Biden pushes expanded pathways to citizenship as immigration bill lands in Congress MORE, who represents parts of Los Angeles County, called for more Latinos in Hollywood “at every level so that Latino talent can reach the recognition of awards season.”


Either presenters or winners could call for systemic changes — to say nothing of viewers at home commenting on social media.

Jokes about impeachment, Iowa caucuses

With the news cycle going into overdrive this week, blockbuster political stories may be fresh in the minds of those making Oscars appearances.

Whether pre-written or off-the-cuff, this year’s awards show could be speckled with political references.

Among the possible quips that could come up: mentions of President TrumpDonald TrumpSacha Baron Cohen calls out 'danger of lies, hate and conspiracies' in Golden Globes speech Sorkin uses Abbie Hoffman quote to condemn Capitol violence: Democracy is 'something you do' Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE’s acquittal in his impeachment trial, the state Democratic Party's struggles in tabulating the outcome in the Iowa caucuses, the commander in chief’s State of the Union address and/or Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE’s (D-Calif.) now-famous ripping of her copy of the speech to shreds, and the current crop of 2020 White House hopefuls battling it out for the Democratic nomination, with the New Hampshire primary looming on Tuesday.

And while none of this year’s Best Picture contenders — “Little Women,” “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Joker,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “The Irishman,” “1917,” “Parasite,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Marriage Story” — are focused on political stories, at least one nominated film has a direct connection to Washington.

“American Factory,” the first Netflix film produced by former President Obama and Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaO.T. Fagbenle to play Barack Obama in Showtime anthology 'The First Lady' Gillian Anderson to play Eleanor Roosevelt in series on first ladies Obama, Springsteen launch eight-episode podcast MORE, received a nod for best documentary feature.

The Obamas’ didn’t respond to requests for comment on if they will be attending Sunday’s ceremony.

Anti-Trump presenters

Blockbuster movies are often fiction, but, in 2020, it’s difficult to escape political realities at Hollywood awards shows. Plenty of performers have used a high-profile appearance to protest Trump and his administration.

In 2018, Robert De Niro — one of Trump’s fiercest Hollywood critics and an Oscar nominee this year for “The Irishman” — famously took to the stage at the Tony Awards to denounce the president. “F--k Trump,” he said to loud applause from the audience.

A year earlier, Meryl Streep railed against then-President-elect Trump at the 74th annual Golden Globes. Without naming him, Streep criticized Trump for imitating a disabled New York Times reporter, saying, “When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

Hip-hop artist Common also hit at Trump during his 2018 Oscars performance, saying, “A president that trolls with hate. He don’t control our fate because God is great.”

An election year may prove an even busier time for anti-Trump celebrities speaking out. A slew of entertainers who have been critical of the president — including Jane Fonda, “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda, former “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, director Spike Lee and “Spotlight’s” Mark Ruffalo — are all poised to present at this year’s ceremony.

Is a Trump tweetstorm brewing?

Although he doesn’t typically comment on awards shows as they’re happening, Trump will often Monday morning quarterback the star-studded events on social media.

Last year, after Lee used his Academy Awards acceptance speech to urge viewers to choose “love versus hate” in the 2020 election, Trump lashed out at the “BlacKkKlansman” director on Twitter.

"Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President ...," Trump tweeted.


The president has also repeatedly knocked the annual awards show for its declining ratings.

“Lowest rated Oscars in HISTORY. Problem is, we don’t have Stars anymore — except your President (just kidding, of course)!” Trump tweeted in 2018, after then-host Jimmy KimmelJames (Jimmy) Christian KimmelJimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah mock Ted Cruz's Cancun trip Katy Perry on inaugural performance: 'I was just singing because I was hopeful' Scorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media MORE took a few digs at him during the show’s opening monologue.

During a speech in Pennsylvania last August, more than five months after the Oscars aired, Trump told the crowd, “The Academy Awards is on hard times now.”

Viewers, Trump claimed, “got tired of people getting up and making fools of themselves… and disrespecting the people in this room and the people that won the election in 2016."


Social issue speeches

Awards shows have always had a political component — Marlon Brando famously declined his Oscar in 1973 for “The Godfather” over “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry” and had Sacheen Littlefeather represent him at the ceremony — but more and more, stars are demonstrating their wokeness while receiving their statuettes.

As she picked up a Golden Globe last month, “Fosse/Verdon” actress Michelle Williams made a plea for abortion rights, saying she wouldn’t have been able to live a life of her own making without “employing a woman’s right to choose.”

“Joker” star Joaquin Phoenix came to the same awards show with a message about the wildfires tearing through Australia at the time.

“It’s great to vote, but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves and make changes and sacrifices in our own lives,” Phoenix said. “We don’t have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the awards sometimes, and back,” he told the celeb-packed audience.

In the wake of the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements in 2018, the Academy Awards dedicated a segment to the anti-sexual harassment initiatives.

“The changes we are witnessing are being driven by the powerful sound of new voices, of different voices, of our voices, joining together in a mighty chorus that’s finally saying, ‘Time’s up,’ ” actress Ashley Judd said as she stood alongside “Frida” star Salma Hayek and “The Sopranos’” Annabella Sciorra. All three are among the women who have come forward to accuse former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

Before presenting the award for best production design, Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani made a plea for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at the 2018 Oscars, telling viewers, “Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood and dreams are the foundation of America.”