This combination photo shows scenes from six Oscar nominated films, from left, “Little Women,” “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Parasite,” “Joker,” and “1917.” The Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 9. (Sony/Sony/20th Century Fox/Neon/Warner Bros/Universal Pictures via AP)

This combination photo shows scenes from six Oscar nominated films, from left, “Little Women,” “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Parasite,” “Joker,” and “1917.” The Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 9. (Sony/Sony/20th Century Fox/Neon/Warner Bros/Universal Pictures via AP)

VIDEO: From Pitt to ‘1917,’ what to anticipate at Sunday’s Oscars

Pre-show begins at 6:30 p.m. ET

The Oscars are here, already.

After the shortest awards season in decades, the 92nd annual Academy Awards will get underway Sunday evening at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The red carpet was rolled out two to three weeks earlier than usual in a bid to freshen up a ceremony and potentially boost ratings.

The truncated time table has put the normally bloated Oscars season on a diet (Sunday’s show will also, for the second straight year, be hostless) and sent film academy members scrambling to finish their movie-watching — no small task in a year featuring a few three-hour epics like “The Irishman” and “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.”

Fittingly for a fast race, a movie about a mad dash has risen to the top of the heap. After winning nearly every major precursor award, Sam Mendes’ “1917,” about a pair of British soldiers sent with an urgent message to deliver through recently-held enemy territory, is the favourite for best picture. Thanks to its technical dazzle, the seemingly one-continuous-shot “1917” is also likely to come away with the most awards Sunday, even without any acting nominations.

Although Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern all appear to be all-but-certain locks in the acting categories, there’s still the potential for a history-making upset. Momentum has swung behind Bong Joon Ho’s South Korean thriller “Parasite,” and some believe it has a chance to become the first non-English language film to win best picture.

Such a win would be a watershed moment for the Academy Awards, which has long been content to relegate international films to their own category. But in an effort to diversify its largely white and male membership, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has inducted more overseas members in recent years. And just about no one has a bad word to say about t he widely praised class satire “Parasite,” the Palme d’Or winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and the first foreign language film to win top honours from the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The official pre-show will begin at 6:30 p.m. EST on ABC.

The ceremony will come just days after the death of Kirk Douglas, one of the last surviving stars of Hollywood’s golden age. Kobe Bryant, a 2018 Oscar winner for the short “Dear Basketball,” is expected to be included in the ceremony’s In Memoriam segment.

ABC and the academy will be hoping a widely watched field of nominees — including the $1 billion-grossing “Joker,” up for a leading 11 awards — will help viewership. Last year’s show garnered 29.6 million viewers, a 12% uptick.

This year’s Oscars comes amid a streaming overhaul throughout Hollywood. Hurrying to catch up to Netflix and Amazon, most of the major studios are prepping or have already launched their own streaming services, as have new entrants like Apple. Netflix comes into the Oscars with a leading 24 nominations thanks to “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story,” “The Two Popes” and the likely best documentary winner, “American Factory.”

The Associated Press

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