One of the most painful – and yet, secretly enjoyable – parts of the Oscars is watching big-name actors flounder on the stage, fluffing their lines and awkwardly announcing the winners.
Who can forget John Travolta calling Idina Menzel “Adele Dazeen”? Or James Franco and Anne Hathaway’s stilted hosting in 2011? Or Sean Penn making a badly-delivered and crass green card joke about Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu?
But Alex Zane, who will be hosting Sky’s Oscars preview show on Sunday night, says he now understands where those nerves come from and why it’s so easy for even the biggest names to mess up.
“I stood in the Dolby Theatre just probably a week and a half ago, and took a breath and sort of took in the scale of the room, and it’s incredible,” he told RadioTimes.com.
“I think we sometimes watch these actors take the stage, often it’s the presenters as well, and we see huge Hollywood stars walk up to the mike – and it looks like they’ve just met for the first time in the wings at the side of the stage, and they’ve never met each other before, and they’ve got no idea what they’re doing there. And you’re like: how are you not able to do this?
“But you look at what they’re facing when they walk out on that stage, and you do sort of forgive them those nerves and the fact that it’s the most stilted delivery.
“You know, they’re huge stars but they’re never normally on a set with more than a few hundred people at the most, and so to walk out and see thousands of their peers looking expectantly at them, I think you can sort of forgive them when they go: ‘And Oscar best animation – oh sorry, I meant the Oscar for – oh sorry.'”
The Dolby Theatre has more than 3,400 seats which will be packed with A-List actors on Sunday night, while millions more film fans watch from their sofas around the world. It could be a little daunting, to say the least.
So who is going to win at the 2017 Oscars on 28th February?
“The Oscars is always an event that throws up surprises. And this year more than ever, because obviously I think a lot of categories for the first time this year are more difficult to predict than they have been for the last few years,” Zane says.
But the presenter, who has fronted Sky’s coverage for many years, reckons he has a few good ideas.
Zane predicts Moonlight for Best Picture (“rightly so”) and La La Land’s Damien Chazelle for Best Director on the strength of the opening scene filmed on the freeway (“worst sequence in the film, but technically it’s a phenomenal achievement”).
La La Land star Emma Stone “stands a good chance” for Best Actress, while Casey Affleck will narrowly beat Denzel Washington to the Best Actor gong for his role in Manchester by the Sea (“incredible performance, heart-wrenching”).
Place your bets now!
The Oscars will air live on Sky Cinema’s Oscars channel on Sunday 26th February from 11:30pm. Check out our everything you need to know guide to the Academy Awards 2017 for more information