What to Expect at the 93rd Annual Academy Awards

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Here’s everything to know about Tinseltown’s biggest night, the 2021 Oscars.

While America continues to battle the world’s highest number of Covid-19 fatalities, now over 500,000, Oscar season – which typically starts in late November – took a very sobering back seat in the face of the country’s ongoing pandemic struggles. But for ardent film fans who look forward to the Oscars every year, fret not as the show will go on, with certain changes implemented by the Academy.

Although filming in general and the public’s movie-going experiences have been significantly affected worldwide by the pandemic, people are oftentimes still able to enjoy their favourite pastime in the comfort of their own homes via streaming platforms or cable TV. But where does this leave the 2021 Academy Awards, an event designed to celebrate the best in big screen entertainment – something that didn’t really get to happen last year?

When Will the 2021 Oscars be Televised?

Usually, Academy Award shows are held in late February or early March.

Director Bong Joon Ho witht the cast and crew of Parasite that won Best Picture in 2020 | Image Credit: ABC Broadcasting

The 93rd annual Academy Awards – like the ones before – will be choosing the best films to honour, that have been released between January 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021. The live event is scheduled to take place at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater on April 26, 2021, after being postponed for Covid-19 related reasons from its original air date on February 28.

Having suffered major disruptions in the industry due to shelter-in-place quarantines, entire productions had to be put on hiatus or shut down, sending everyone into a spin since thousands of jobs and livelihoods were affected. As a consolation, the eligibility period for Oscar nominations was extended to cover films released as late as the end of February 2021.

This is only the fourth time the Oscars have been postponed. The previous times were due to the Los Angeles floods in 1938, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, and after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

It is also the first time since the sixth awards ceremony, held in 1934, that films released in two different calendar years are eligible for consideration in the same ceremony.

If Blockbuster Releases Didn’t Make It to the Big Screen, How Does the Selection Process Work This Year?

Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will make necessary changes to the rules and regulations surrounding the industry’s most prestigious award ceremony.

Viola Davies in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” This was also Chadwick Boseman’s last movie| Image Credit: David Lee/Netflix

Given Covid-19’s massive impact on the industry, this year’s criteria were modified to account for films that were supposed to have been released in theatres, but ultimately went directly to streaming services. Usually, films are required to have an exclusive seven-day run in cinemas to qualify, but this year, the Academy is accepting some streaming-only films.

Which Streaming-Only Films Made the Cut for 2021 Nominations?

So far, here are some of the films that have been shortlisted and will be contending for major categories like best picture, best director, best actor, and best actress. For Malaysian viewers, some of these titles may not have been released yet, and may only be available on Netflix outside of the country, which in this case, those with VPN accounts will have no trouble accessing.

  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)
  • “Nomadland” (Feb. 19)
  • “Mank” (Netflix)
  • “One Night in Miami” (in theatres; Amazon Prime on Jan. 15)
  • “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix)
  • “The Father” (Feb. 26)
  • “News of the World” (in theatres; on demand Jan. 15)
  • “Soul” (Disney+)
  • “Da 5 Bloods” (Netflix)
  • “Minari” (Feb. 12)
  • “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres; Amazon Prime on Jan. 15)
  • “Sound of Metal” (Amazon Prime)
  • “Palm Springs” (Hulu)
  • “The Prom” (Netflix)
Andy Samberg and Cristin Millioti in “Palm Springs” | Image via IMDb

Will There Be a Host This Year?

Seeing that no one has been announced, there’s a good chance 2021 might continue with the ‘hostless’ concept as the show has gone without a host for the past two years.

Brad Pitt won his first Oscar for Supporting Actor in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards | Image Credit: Rob Latour/Shutterstock

Also, in response to the question of the new representation and inclusion standards announced in September 2020, the Academy released a statement saying, “The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the moviegoing audience.”

However, the new rules will not affect films that are already in the running for the next several years, and will only go into effect in 2024. The new rules have finally been included to create a more diverse selection of individuals and talent on screen and behind the scenes, as well as in the studios and marketing departments.

The Academy might still allow films that do not adhere to these new standards, but will receive a disclaimer that they might not be eligible for an Oscar.

Click here to find the full list of Academy amendments.

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