The Latest: Joaquin Phoenix thanks Oscars seat filler guru

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on the 92nd Academy Awards, which are being bestowed Sunday at the Dolby Theatre (all times local):

7:15 p.m.

While many famous nominees and presenters stride across the room to talk to their fellow stars during commercial breaks, Joaquin Phoenix was more interested in a guy with a different job.

The best actor nominee walked up and had a friendly and animated conversation toward the front of the Dolby Theatre Sunday with the guy who works intensely throughout the show to wrangle the people who fill empty seats, appearing to congratulate him on doing a tough job well.

Those droves of roaming seat-fillers work to stay invisible during the show but suddenly appear in droves during the commercials, holding up their credentials whenever their supervisor holds up his.

Commercial breaks can also provide a bonus round of applause for Oscar performers. Idina Menzel and the ensemble of international Annas and Elsas who sang “Into the Unknown” with her were still on the stage congratulating one another, laughing and hugging when the show went to commercial.

Menzel stepped to the front of the stage, gave a quick curtsy, and the crowd loudly clapped as the crew of women sailed off the stage together.

Later, the standing ovation for Cynthia Erivo’s performance of “Stand Up” from “Harriet” extended long after the cameras had moved and the house lights had gone up.

— Andrew Dalton (@andyjamesdalton) inside the Oscars.


7 p.m.

Capturing the terror of a daring World War I in what appeared to a single shot has earned “1917” this year’s visual effects Oscar.

Director Sam Mendes and his team shot the film about a frantic mission through hostile territory to try to stop a doomed mission.

The effects brought a frenetic urgency to the story and has made it a hit with critics and audiences alike. “1917” beat out “Star Wars,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Lion King and “The Irishman” for the visual effects honor. “The Irishman” and “1917” will also compete in the best picture category, the night’s top honor.


6:45 p.m.

Nearly twenty years after skipping the Academy Awards, Slim Shady finally arrived on the Oscars stage.

Eminem made a surprise appearance and performed “Lose Yourself,” a best original song winner in 2003 from the soundtrack to “8 Mile.” His performance rocked the Dolby Theatre — Zazie Beetz was among the many who rapped along, and Billie Eilish watched with her jaw dropped.

The appearance was a big deal for the awards show after Eminem didn’t perform as a nominee in ’03. Backstage producer Lynette Howell Taylor was especially excited, save for a momentary panic that he didn’t have his mic. Afterward, she squealed “We did it!” Fitting for a performance that required a few bleeps, Howell Taylor also let out some expletives of her own in excitement.


6:30 p.m.

Commercial breaks at the Oscars offer the nominees, presenters and other stars a chance to do some quick power-mingling, stretch their legs and check their texts before the show returns to air.

Tom Hanks, always the life of the party when he’s at the Oscars, walked down the front row at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday and had a long and animated chat with Leonardo DiCaprio during the first commercial break, moments after DiCaprio’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” castmate Brad Pitt beat Hanks for best supporting actor. He later shouted back and forth with Julia Louis-Dreyfus during another commercial.

Actress Beanie Feldstein used a break in the show to gleefully run down the aisle to talk to last year’s best actress winner Olivia Colman.

Charlize Theron was especially entranced by her screen during one break, and it took Wonder Woman to snap her out of it. Gal Gadot leaned down and gave her a hug and a kiss as she passed.

— Andrew Dalton (@andyjamesdalton) inside the Oscars.


6:15 p.m.

Laura Dern is the winner of the best supporting actress Academy Award for her role as a high-powered divorce attorney in “Marriage Story.”

It is Dern’s first Oscar win and caps an awards season where the actress has also collected honors from the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes.

“Marriage Story” shows the disintegrating relationship between a showbiz couple played by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. Dern’s well-heeled lawyer helps Johansson outmaneuver her estranged husband in the courtroom, causing more strain on the pair and their young son.

Dern thanked her co-stars and “Marriage Story” director Noah Baumbach. She also thanked her parents, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern, calling them her heroes.


6:12 p.m.

Shia LaBeouf presented the Academy Award for best live action short with Zack Gottsagen, his co-star in “The Peanut Butter Falcon” and an actor with Down syndrome.

Some viewers on social media grilled LaBeouf after he appeared to roll his eyes as Gottsagen hesitated reading the card, perhaps sensing a star grousing about sharing the stage with a special needs co-presenter.

To the contrary, LaBeouf and Gottsagen are close friends from their time filming in the Georgia countryside. T hey recounted to The Associated Press in August how then spent evenings watching wrestling between 12-hour shoots. LaBeouf has even credited Gottsagen for helping him get sober.

“He knows about my pain intimately. We’d be sitting there watching wrestling every night. He’d be eating ice cream. I’d be drinking gin. I’d tell him, ‘You gotta stop eating all that ice cream.’ He’d say, ‘You gotta stop drinking that gin,’” says LaBeouf. “This man’s a year older than me. He’s been acting longer than me and he’s healthier than I am. He has more friends than I have, has longer lasting loving relationships.”


6:10 p.m.

“American Factory” has won of the documentary film Academy Award.

It is the first feature backed by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, but the former president and first lady are not technically Oscar winners.

The film focuses on the efforts of a Chinese company to repurpose a shuttered General Motors plant in Ohio, and the cultural tensions that arise.



Taika Waititi is the winner of the best adapted screenplay Academy Award for “Jojo Rabbit.”

It is the first Oscar for the writer-director-actor, who thanked his mother and also dedicated the award to all the “indigenous kids in the world” who want to make art.

Waititi directed and starred in “Jojo Rabbit,” playing Adolf Hitler, who is the imaginary friend of the title character. The film is also competing for best picture.

5:35 p.m.

“Parasite” is the winner of the best original screenplay Academy Award, delivering Bong Joon Ho his first Oscar.

The South Korean writer-director held the Oscar up and said to the audience “Thank you, great honor.” He dedicated the win to his country.

He shares the honor with Han Jin Won, who paid thanks to the Korean film industry.


5:30 p.m.

Natalie Portman has walked the red carpet in a cape lined with the names of female filmmakers who weren’t nominated for best director.

The black cape featured gold lettering that included Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”) and Mati Diop (“Atlantics”).

This year’s nominees for best director are all male, and Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” is the only woman to win the award. Gerwig was the most recent female nominee, in 2018 for “Lady Bird.”


5:25 p.m.

Woody, Buzz and Bo Peep have done it again -- “Toy Story 4” is the winner of the Academy Award for best animated feature film.

The fourth installment in the Pixar franchise about the adventures of toys that come to life reunited several beloved characters and introduced a new one: Forky. The craft project made from a spork comes to life and realizes his worth, despite the strong sense that he would rather be in the trash.

The third film was widely seen as a fitting ending to the franchise, but audiences flocked to the film, which earned more than $430 million in North America alone.

“Hair Love” won the Oscar for best animated short film.


5:15 p.m.

Brad Pitt finally has his acting Oscar.

The four-time nominee won the best supporting actor Academy Award for his role as a stuntman in “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.”

Pitt had been expected to win the category after scooping up a series of honors this year, including at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Pitt’s treated the previous wins with jokes and breezy speeches.

Pitt was more somber on Sunday, calling his win “incredible” as his peers cheered.

The actor plays the stunt double of an aging cowboy actor played by Leonardo DiCaprio, a best actor nominee, in Quentin Tarantino’s 1969 Hollywood fable “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.”

“Once Upon a time in Hollywood, ain’t that the truth,” Pitt said. He thanked his children, Tarantino and DiCaprio. “I’ll ride on your coattails any day,” he said of his co-star. “The view’s fantastic.”

The film is a 10-time nominee at Sunday’s Academy Awards.


5:10 p.m.

Chris Rock and Steve Martin have helped open the Oscars by delivering an opening monologue.

Both funnymen have hosted the Oscars before, prompting Martin to note the appearance on Sunday was a “demotion.”

The show opened with a rousing musical medley by Janelle Monae.

Martin also poked fun at the Oscars announcing the wrong best picture winner a few years back, taking a dig at the recent Iowa caucus that was marred by delayed results.

Rock ribbed “The Irishman” director Martin Scorsese, telling him he “loved the first season.”

The pair also noted the lack of female directing nominees and the lack of diversity.

Martin joked they had a “great time not hosting tonight.”


5:05 p.m.

Janelle Monae has kicked off the Academy Awards with a musical tribute to this year’s nominees.

Monae started off the show donning a red sweater like Mister Rogers wore in a nod to “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” She walked into the audience and serenaded the film’s star, Tom Hanks, and other nominees.

The show, which is airing live on ABC, is going hostless for the second year in a row.

She shifted into an upbeat number with several dancers wearing attire honoring other nominees. Monae shed the sweater as she sang and danced.

The performance also featured an appearance by Billy Porter.


4:40 p.m.

Oscar Isaac and Laura Dern were among those inside the Dolby Theatre who arrived early and stood to greet well-wishers and take photos some 20 minutes before the show began.

The orchestra was warming up as a recording urged everyone to take their seats.

The cast of “Parasite” listened, with all of them filling their fourth row section early in what was the first trip to the show for many of them, and certainly the closest any of them have sat. Across the auditorium, Spike Lee and Martin Scorcese hugged and had a long, laugh-filled conversation.

Just a few feet away, best actor nominees Joaquin Phoenix and Antonio Banderas gleefully greeted each other, hugging and touching each other’s faces, appearing to wish each other good luck.

— Andrew Dalton (@andyjamesdalton) inside the Oscars.


4:30 p.m.

Geena Davis will be recognized during Sunday’s show with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work combating gender inequality. Fittingly, she kept up the fight even on the red carpet.

“Every year when the Oscars come around, we always say, ‘Well, it’s really a systematic problem. You can’t blame the academy necessarily for what Hollywood is making,’” she said. “I think we really need to be mindful that, let’s go already. Let’s make this happen. There’s no need to wait any longer.”

An Oscar winner for “The Accidental Tourist” in 1989, Davis founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2004. On the red carpet, she touted improvements made in gender representation for children’s TV and movies while noting “we still have a lot of work to do with the world of the movie, and also other types of diversity.”

___ 4:15 p.m.

“Can someone help with my train?” “Little Women” asks director Greta Gerwig on the Oscars red carpet. Her publicist ran over to adjust the thick green skirt before she resumed posing for photographs.

Gerwig, nominated for best adapted screenplay, was accompanied by her fiancé Noah Baumbach, who was nominated for his original screenplay for “Marriage Story.”

Gerwig also made sure to thank the photographers.

The two posed together and separately and Baumbach looked on lovingly as Gerwig stopped to say hi to Billy Porter.

Later, “Little Women” star Saoirse Ronan spotted Gerwig across the red carpet and chased her down for a big hug. Ronan is nominated for best actress.

— Lindsey Bahr (@ldbahr) on the Oscars red carpet


4 p.m.

Antonio Banderas is grateful that his first Oscar nomination came for a film in his native Spanish.

Banderas is up for best actor for his role in “Pain and Glory,” which was directed by long-time friend Pedro Almodóvar. The Spanish actor says he welcomes the calls for more diversity in Hollywood and in the film academy.

“I have seen this community fighting very, very hard,” Banderas said. “Struggling to get their kids in university to become better, to become a part of the American society. That has to happen, be reflected in Hollywood.”

Rodrigo Prieto, a Mexican cinematographer nominated for “The Irishman,” said his awareness of biases in Hollywood has heightened with time.

“When I moved here and I started working in the film business here in America, myself, I never felt any sort of prejudice,” he said. “But I did eventually start noticing the crews did lack diversity. I do think there is change happening. It does have to be a conscious thing we all do because the pool of talent is not that diverse yet, but it’s definitely happening.”

— Marcela Isaza (@misaza) on the Oscars red carpet, with Jake Seiner in New York


3:45 p.m.

Roman Griffin Davis and Archie Yates, the young stars of “Jojo Rabbit,” hammed it up for photographers on the Oscars red carpet in various poses. One photographer shouted that they should try jumping. The two youngsters readily obliged, and while it was a little less than coordinated, it was still pretty cute.

Davis and Yates then joined their parents and made their way down the rest of the carpet.

A few minutes later, best actor nominee Antonio Banderas, for “Pain and Glory,” wrangled his family for a photo, but then advised his daughter to “just keep moving.”

— Lindsey Bahr (@ldbahr) on the Oscars red carpet.


3:30 p.m.

Spike Lee is honoring Kobe Bryant on the Oscars red carpet.

The “BlacKkKlansman” director wore a purple suit trimmed in yellow adorned with Bryant’s No. 24 on the lapel and back. He also wore a pair of Bryant’s Nike sneakers.

Lee walked the red carpet in a purple suit last year, too — a nod to late musical artist and close friend Prince.

Bryant, who died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash, will be part of the Oscars’ In Memorium segment.

Roots frontman Questlove said Bryant was “a great person, a stand-up guy.” The Philadelphia native recalled the waves Bryant made in 1996 when he convinced Brandy to be his date at prom. Bryant and Questlove had since struck up a friendship based in part on their Philly upbringings.

“Anytime I saw him or his family there’s always been love,” Questlove said. “It’s very devastating. We’re all grieving right now.”

— Jake Seiner


3:15 p.m.

“Hair Love” director Matthew A. Cherry has brought a special guest to the Oscars red carpet — Deandre Arnold, a Texas high school student who was told he couldn’t attend graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks.

Arnold’s story brought national attention and prompted the Texas Legislative Black Caucus to work up a bill that would ban discrimination based on hair textures and styles commonly associated with race. Cherry was eager to lend his support — his film about a young black girl who asks her inexperienced father to help style her hair is nominated for best animated short.

“It means the world to us to have him here with us,” Cherry said. “We wanted people to see how good of a kid he is, but also there’s no reason people should be policing our hair.”

Arnold said it’s been “validating” to get backing from Cherry and other celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, who gifted him $20,000 toward his education.

“I’m standing strong because of the support system I have behind me,” Arnold said.

— Amanda Lee Myers (@AmandaLeeAP) on the Oscars red carpet and and Jake Seiner in New York.


3 p.m.

Win or lose, “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho is confident a foreign-language film will soon win an Oscar.

“Regardless of the outcome, I think the door has been opened,” the director from South Korea said. “I think as long as we continue this effort, the door will just open wider and wider.”

“Parasite” has a chance to be the first non-English film to win best picture — a credit to its poignant story about income inequality, a talented ensemble cast and an academy membership that has grown more international in recent years. Bong walked the red carpet with eight actors from the film, noting that actors and others from the American film industry were excited to meet them.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s fair to separate films into English and non-English,” he said. “I think as long as they’re beautiful, it’s cinema.”

Bong isn’t sweating whether he leaves with a trophy. Mostly, he’s excited that the Oscars end a five-week trip away from his home in South Korea.

“After the ceremony, there will be a party, and after the party I will get to go home,” he said. “So thinking about those two things, doesn’t make me nervous at all.”

— Amanda Lee Myers (@AmandaLeeAP) on the Oscars red carpet and and Jake Seiner in New York.


2:40 p.m.

“Frozen 2’s” Kristen Anderson-Lopez has a secret hiding under her emerald gown: Sneakers.

An award-winning composer along with husband Robert Lopez, Anderson-Lopez lifted her dress proudly to show off her comfortable kicks, shouting to the fan bleachers that it’s the “only way to do the Oscars.”

Already Oscar winners for “Let It Go” and “Remember Me,” from “Coco,” the couple is nominated this year for the song “Into the Unknown.”

The footwear isn’t reflective of her excitement, though. She says an Oscar win feels like “a second wedding” for them.

— Lindsey Bahr (@ldbahr) on the Oscars red carpet and Jake Seiner in New York.


2:30 p.m.

Zazie Beetz says she considered her role in “Joker” to be a “career-changing and life-changing experience” — and that hasn’t been shaken by criticisms that the film is “dangerous” or “irresponsible.”

“I was so thrilled to see a story like this and see it get shared,” Beetz said Sunday before the Oscars. “To be a part of it has been wonderful.”

“Joker” is the leading nominee heading into Sunday’s ceremony with 11 nods, including for best picture.

An origin story about the classic Batman villain, “Joker” has been a blockbuster hit but divisive with critics, some of whom worried audience members might see Joaquin Phoenix’s character as an inspiration or excuse to act out. Warner Bros. was even prompted in September to declare the film is not “an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind.”

“It’s been in my heart from the beginning,” said Beetz, who also praised Phoenix for calling out the industry’s issues with diversity.

“Joker” composure Hildur Guðnadóttir also praised Phoenix, and recalled watching the best actor nominee listen to her score on set.

— Amanda Lee Myers (@AmandaLeeAP) on the Oscars red carpet and and Jake Seiner in New York.


1:15 p.m.

The Oscars red carpet has started with an unwelcome guest — hard rain and a blast of cold air.

Rain was a possibility for Sunday, so the carpet is protected with a large tent. But just as stars like Billy Porter and Tamron Hall arrived, the skies above the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood opened up in a downpour.

The position of some camera crews had them just outside the tent, sending them scrambling to find tarps and plastic to protect their gear.

“Oh my God the tent is leaking,” said one photographer who noticed a hole over the massive Oscars sign.

Harried staff are running around with squeegees trying to bump excess water off the tent.

Temperatures were in the high 50s on Sunday, which is considered cold in Los Angeles.

The downpour didn’t dampen the red carpet looks of early arrivals, including Porter. The “Pose” star wore a glistening, gold metallic top with a feather effect and a full skirt depicting the interior of the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace.

— Nekesa Mumbi Moody and Lindsey Bahr on the red carpet (@nekesamumbi and @ldbahr on Twitter)


3 a.m.

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 is being rolled out two to three weeks earlier than usual in a bid to freshen up a ceremony and potentially boost ratings.

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” is the favorite for best picture. But many believe the Korean thriller “Parasite” has a chance at an upset.

The ceremony begins at 8 p.m. EST, telecast live on ABC.