Exclusive: Oprah Winfrey headlines Oscar show presenters for Best Actor and Best Actress
This year's 82nd Academy Awards show should be an intriguing mix of old and new, but one of the most successful aspects of last year's critically lauded show appears to be receiving a strange makeover.
The 81st Academy Awards featured the innovation of having five former winners present each acting award to that year's nominee class. It was a classy move that effectively had the previous winners "welcoming" that year's recipient into the Academy "club," while praising each nominated performance. The reveal of each former winner -- secrets the producers did everything to try and protect -- also created a sense of excitement as the show progressed and was visibly moving to many of the nominees in the audience.
Initially, this year's producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic planned on removing the five presenters entirely until they received push back from the industry. So, in order to give it a new "spin," Shankman and Mechanic announced that they would have "friends" of each nominee present, saying that this will give the presentation "connectivity." Now finding five former winners for each category was a difficult task already, but finding five "friends" who are noteworthy enough to appear on the Oscar stage is much worse. But, by George, they are giving it the old college try.
Sources have revealed to Awards Campaign some of the more prominent presenting match ups in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories. One presenter who was expected to appear, but had not been officially announced is none other than former nominee Oprah Winfrey. The TV icon executive produced "Precious: Based on 'Push' a novel by Sapphire" and fellow producer Tyler Perry was already revealed as a presenter. As for the other participants, spoilers ahead for those who would like to remain surprised on Oscar night.
Stanley Tucci presents to Meryl Streep
Connection: The good friends have worked together previously on "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Julie and Julia."
James McAvoy presents to Helen Mirren
Connection: The duo worked on Mirren's nominated film "The Last Station."
Peter Sarsgaard presents to Carey Mulligan
Connection: Sarsgaard wooed Mulligan in Best Picture nominee "An Education."
Oprah Winfrey presents to Gabourey Sibide
Connection: Winfrey became an executive producer of Best Picture nominee "Precious: Based on 'Push' a Novel by Sapphire" after it debuted at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Sibide also has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Colin Farrell presents to Jeremy Renner
Connection: They worked on "SWAT" together. That's not a misprint. Their connection is "SWAT" (This will no doubt touch Renner's heart.)
It's unclear whether Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor will also benefit from the "friend" connections. However, we'd love for the producers to find some way for previously announced presenters Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner to weasel their way into those moments in the show (Lautner or Stewart for Anna Kendrick? Matt Damon for Vera Farmiga? Shoot, Cyrus for Maggie Gyllenhaal? Think of the possibilities!).
Other previously announced presenters include Tyler Perry ; Oscar nominees Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Robert Downey, Jr. and Queen Latifah; as well as former winners Barbra Streisand, Charlize Theron and Katy Bates.
The 82nd Academy Awards will be held at the Kodak Theater on Sunday, March 7 at 8 PM ET/ 5 PM PT. Look for complete coverage all day on HitFix.
For the latest Oscar and Entertainment news, follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.