Oscars 2021: What to Expect From Academy Awards

After nearly two months of muted acceptance speeches and spotty internet connections, the 2021 awards season is coming to a close. There’s just one big event left—The 93rd Academy Awards. To the relief of viewers and nominees alike, producers are doing all they can to simulate a proper awards show, meaning… you guessed it, no Zoom! In the words of producer Steven Soderbergh, “It’s the f—ing Oscars, not a webinar.”

Acceptance speeches are returning to the stage.

Academy producers are breaking away from the uncomfortable Zoom format that’s come to define the 2021 awards season. According to the LA Times, the decision sparked initial backlash when several nominees expressed concern over traveling to Los Angeles. So, while the Dolby Theatre will remain the main stage, cameras will also be rolling in Los Angeles’ Union Station, a space in the UK and another in Paris, CNN reports. An additional 20 satellite feeds will accommodate nominees in other locations.

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A small audience will be in attendance.

An insder told CNN, “It is very different this year,” adding, “There will be a very small (in-person) audience.” Like last year, there will be no host. Bong Joon Ho, Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Regina King and Bryan Cranston are among the presenters announced so far.

Producers will spotlight the voices of those impacted most over the past year.

Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins are first-time producers of the Academy Awards. Talk about a tough first day on the job. CNN’s insider says, “It will be a message-focused awards. It would definitely be a disconnect if there wasn’t an awareness that last year was traumatic for everybody. It’s really putting a spotlight on the voices of people impacted. It’s making space for inclusion and representation and it’s doing that really well.”

Moviegoers and members of Hollywood have long advocated for the diversification of Oscar nominees. Thankfully, overdue changes in Academy standards are on the horizon. In September 2020, the Academy made a pledge that from their 2025 awards onwards, films would only be eligible if they meet (at least) two of four diversity standards, which variously require women, racial and ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities to be represented in some form in front of or behind the camera.

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This year, nine out of 20 nominations went to actors of color and Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to join the category for best director.
Soderbergh told the LA Times, “We want it to be joyful, and we do want people to rebuild their relationship with going to the movies,” adding, “We’re all in a very synchronized place in terms of what the tone has to be. But I guess we’ll find out.”

How can I watch the Oscars?

Tune in to the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday, April 25th, 2021 at 8 p.m. EST. Streaming platforms including ABC.com, the ABC app, AT&T TV, Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV will also air the live ceremony.

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