* Best picture Oscar too close to call
* Time’s Up to get Oscar moment
* Jimmy Kimmel hosts movie industry’s biggest night (Adds early red carpet arrivals, presenters)
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES, March 4 (Reuters) - Stars arrived on the Oscars red carpet on Sunday under sunny but breezy skies for an Academy Awards ceremony filled with suspense over which will win the best picture, and whether the Hollywood sexual misconduct scandal will steal the spotlight on the movie industry’s biggest night.
“Get Out” actress Allison Williams, “I, Tonya” supporting actress Allison Janney, supporting actor nominee Christopher Plummer and “Spider-Man” star Tom Holland were among the early arrivals. Women sported flowing blue, lavender and white gowns often embellished with sequins and crystals.
Sandra Bullock, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Black Panther” star Lupita Nyong’o, Jane Fonda and Nicole Kidman are among an eclectic lineup of presenters due to take the stage on Sunday.
The best picture Oscar - presented at the end of the 3-1/2-hour show - is anyone’s guess this year.
Fox Searchlight fantasy romance “The Shape of Water” with a leading 13 nominations, Fox Searchlight dark comedy “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and Universal Pictures racial satire “Get Out” all have a fighting chance, awards pundits say.
“I think ‘Get Out’ seems to have the momentum right now,” said Dave Karger, special correspondent for entertainment website IMDB.com.
“Three Billboards,” the tale of an angry woman seeking justice for her daughter’s killer, scooped honors earlier this year, but “Get Out,” a bold horror movie that became a talking point around modern-day race relations in America, won best picture at Saturday’s independent Spirit Awards.
Hollywood also has other issues on its mind, including the sexual misconduct scandal that has brought down dozens of once-powerful men, and lingering questions over racial and gender fairness in the movie business.
The Time’s Up campaign against sexual harassment in the workplace, spearheaded by celebrities including Reese Witherspoon and Ava DuVernay, will be recognized in some form in Sunday’s ceremony, organizers say.
History could be made on Sunday.
“Get Out” director and writer Jordan Peele is vying to become the first black man in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 90-year history to win a directing Oscar.
“Lady Bird” director Greta Gerwig could be only the second female to take home that prize when the decision of the 8,000 academy members is announced.
“Every year, the discussion around the awards is less and less who will win, but how many women are nominated, or how many blacks and Asians lost,” said Tom O’Neil, founder of awards website GoldDerby.com.
Host Jimmy Kimmel has the task of navigating the wider political themes with the celebrations. He is also expected to turn into a running joke last year’s embarrassing best picture envelope mix-up that saw musical “La La Land” being declared winner instead of “Moonlight.”
No such suspense surrounds the main acting races, where Frances McDormand is heavily favored to win for her turn as an angry, grieving mother in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and British actor Gary Oldman’s performance as wartime leader Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” is widely expected to bring his first Oscar.
In the supporting actor categories, odds are on Allison Janney for “I, Tonya,” and Sam Rockwell for “Three Billboards” after they swept previous awards. (Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Peter Henderson, Sandra Maler and Jonathan Oatis)