Hollywood royalty set for Oscars night

Excitement is building for the 2019 Oscars this weekend in Hollywood as the final preparations get under way. Fans and media are starting to gather for the 91st Annual Academy Awards. Courtesy #DStv403

LOS ANGELES - The ballots are in, the red carpet gowns are chosen and the golden statuettes are being polished: Sunday is Oscars night, Hollywood's biggest gala of the year, and the end of a topsy-turvy awards season.

Can Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" be the first foreign language film, and the first Netflix feature, to win best picture? Can Glenn Close finally win her first Academy Award? And what will a host-free Oscars look like?

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Voting among some 7,900 Academy members ended Tuesday, so the die is cast. All will be revealed at the Dolby Theatre, in a ceremony beamed around the world to millions of showbiz fans.

While it has sometimes seemed easy to guess the winners before the big night, this year looks to feature a few surprises, with the industry's other top awards going to a variety of films and performers.

"With eight best picture nominees, every film has passionate supporters, but no film has a consensus," Tim Gray, awards editor for showbiz trade publication Variety, told AFP.

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"Roma," Cuaron's cinematic ode to his childhood in Mexico City and the women who raised him, led the nominations with 10 overall, tied with offbeat royal romp "The Favourite," about Britain's tragic Queen Anne.

But civil rights dramedy "Green Book" has overcome controversy to remain on the radar, and could benefit from the Academy's complex preferential voting system to snatch the top prize.

Superhero blockbuster "Black Panther," the first movie in its genre to score a best picture nomination, is also in the mix, as are Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman," Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody," musical romance "A Star Is Born" and Dick Cheney biopic "Vice."