celebrity

An invite snub and COVID-positive stars: All the Oscars behind-the-scenes drama in one place.

We cannot look away from awards season, because of the glitz, glamour and celebrations... right?

Okay, no. Who am I kidding? Sure, the fashion, the celeb interactions and the awkward monologue jokes are good. But the best part of awards season is the guaranteed stream of drama.

This year's season is nearing its end, which means the biggest event of all is just around the corner: The 2022 Academy Awards go down on March 27 (So Monday, March 28, down here in Australia).

With less than a week to go, the Oscars drama has well and truly begun. Here's what's been going down, ahead of next week's ceremony:

West Side Story's Rachel Zegler was not invited.

It's one of the most iconic, enduring moments of every Oscars ceremony: Dozens of people - actors, directors, producers, writers and more - packed onto the stage to accept the award for Best Picture.

But if - and yes, it is a huge if - Steven Spielberg's West Side Story wins the Academy's most prestigious honour this year, its leading lady will not be there to celebrate it.

Image: Getty/20th Century Studios. 

Rachel Zegler, the 20-year-old star of the 2021 film adaptation, says she was not invited.

In response to a question from a fan asking what she’ll be wearing to this year’s ceremony, Zegler wrote on Instagram: "I'm not invited so sweatpants and my boyfriend's flannel."

She explained further in another comment: "Idk y'all I have tried it all but it doesn't seem to be happening. I will root for West Side Story from my couch and be proud of the work we so tirelessly did three years ago.

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"I hope some last-minute miracle occurs and I can celebrate our film in person but hey, that's how it goes sometimes, I guess. Thanks for all the shock and outrage — I'm disappointed, too. But that's okay. So proud of our movie."

It might seem unfathomable that the main star of a Best Picture nominee would not receive an Oscars invitation, but it turns out there is no guaranteed admission.

Presenters and nominees automatically get tickets to the event. This means Zegler's co-star Ariana DeBose - who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress - will certainly be there, but other actors in the films aren't guaranteed a spot. The rest of the tickets for the 3400-seat Dolby Theatre are decided by the studio.

It is unknown at this point whether other non-nominated cast members, including lead Ansel Elgort, were invited. Elgort was accused of sexual assault in 2020, after filming for West Side Story had ended, and has had a lesser role in its publicity since.

Days after this story broke, Zegler finally secured a spot. The Hollywood Reporter reported the Academy asked Zegler to be a presenter during this year's show, following the uproar.

Zegler is currently filming Snow White in London, and her shooting schedule will be rearranged to allow her to fly to Los Angeles.

A BAFTAs COVID outbreak.

Awards season has, unsurprisingly, had a few COVID interruptions:

Because of COVID, Succession's Sarah Snook missed the Critics Choice Awards on March 13 (the same day as the BAFTAs), and Sean Penn had to drop out of a tribute to Paul Thomas Anderson at March 12's Directors Guild of America Awards after positive tests (although, it turned out Penn's was a false-positive).

Vanity Fair senior Hollywood correspondent Rebecca Ford tweeted that many stars in attendance at the BAFTAs had contracted COVID from the event.

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Among them are Belfast director (and triple-Oscar nominee) Kenneth Branagh and the film's Best Supporting Actor nominee Ciarán Hinds. Young star Jude Hill shared the news on the red carpet of the Producers Guild Awards, which his colleagues had to skip.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller had to accept their New York Film Critics Circle Best Animated Film award for The Mitchells vs. the Machines from a hotel room last week after testing positive. Both had attended the BAFTAs.

The Hollywood Reporter reports dozens of other unnamed talent, executives, journalists and crew have also been infected at many of the recent awards season events.

Timing-wise, most with recent infections should be negative by Oscars day - exactly two weeks after the BAFTAs - but there is very little wiggle-room.

As for the Oscars' COVID policies: There are no vaccine requirements for performers and presenters, but nominees and guests must be vaccinated to attend.

Nominees and invited guests will not be required to wear masks in the theatre and will be seated near the stage with social distancing guidelines. Other attendees, seated further back, will be required to wear masks as they will be sitting shoulder to shoulder.

Press must wear masks on the red carpet.

Every attendee will be required to show a negative PCR test result.

Jane Campion, and the Academy's final voting.

While accepting her Best Director award at the Critics Choice Awards, The Power of the Dog director Jane Campion made a major gaffe.

Addressing Venus and Serena Williams, who were in attendance as their father is the subject of the film King Richard, Campion first said it was an honour to be in the room with them and jokingly requested tennis lessons.

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She then thanked her fellow Best Director nominees, who were all men.

"I'd also just like to give my love out to my fellow – the guys. And Serena and Venus, you are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys like I have to."

Image: Getty/The CW/Mamamia. 

Her remark was quickly labelled tone-deaf, backhanded and racist.

Actor Jodie Turner-Smith, who attended the CCA ceremony, tweeted: "Jane taking time out of her best director speech to tell two Black women that she is more oppressed than them is PEAK white feminism."

By the following morning, Campion had issued an apology.

"I made a thoughtless comment equating what I do in the film world with all that Serena Williams and Venus Williams have achieved," Campion said. "I did not intend to devalue these two legendary Black women and world class athletes. The fact is the Williams sisters have, actually, squared off against men on the court (and off), and they have both raised the bar and opened doors for what is possible for women in this world."

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The Oscars are not renowned for their representation - it was only a couple of years ago that the #OscarsSoWhite criticism saw the Academy initiate "historic" changes in membership to address racial and gender inequalities. 

But Campion's speech came at a very bad time, especially considering as she is/was the odds-on favourite for the Best Director win. Final Oscar voting began on March 17, just days after, meaning her comments are fresh in the minds of Oscars voters.

There have been examples of similar gaffes costing awards (even unofficially).

In 2014, American Hustle director David O. Russell was in contention for a number of Oscars. Then, when he complained about Jennifer Lawrence's busy schedule with The Hunger Games franchise, he compared it to "12 years of slavery", which was largely seen as a reason the film won zero of its 10 nominations. The Best Picture winner that year was 12 Years a Slave.

Similarly, Charlotte Rampling is said to have blown her chances of a Best Actress win in 2016 for her performance in 45 Years, after she suggested #OscarsSoWhite was "racist to whites". 

She later apologised, but Oscars voters ultimately awarded Brie Larson for Room.

If Campion does take out Best Director (and she is still the favourite), all eyes and ears will be on her acceptance speech.

This year's Oscar voting ends on March 22, ahead of the March 27 ceremony.

So, that's all the current drama explained. You can bet more will happen on the big day, so mark your calenders and grab your popcorn.

We'll see you then.

Chelsea McLaughlin is Mamamia's Senior Entertainment Writer. For more pop culture takes, sarcasm and... cat content, you can follow her on Instagram.

Feature image: Getty/Instagram @rachelzegler.

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