Hollywood is bracing for an Academy Awards that more than any in recent memory has the feel of a high-stakes showdown.
After a second straight year of all-white nominees prompted industry-wide scrutiny, viewers and stars alike are hanging on the opening words of host Chris Rock.
Media gathered on the red carpet and workers made final preparations on Saturday (27 February) outside the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, which will be at the center of a swirling storm over diversity in the movies and at the Oscars. Protests are planned near the red carpet and some viewers are organizing a boycott of the broadcast.
The 88th Academy Awards are this year charged with enough politics and uncertainty to rival an election debate. Arrivals for the ceremony are to begin by 6 p.m. Eastern (2300 GMT) on Sunday, with the show kicking off at 8:30 p.m. Eastern (0130 Monday GMT) on ABC in the United States.
Security around Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue is especially heighted because Vice President Joe Biden will be attending to give a special presentation with Lady Gaga aimed at combating sexual violence.