An Oscars like no other kicks off Sunday night, with story on the line in major categories and a revamped pandemic TV show.
The 93rd Academy Awards will begin at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC. There will be no host, no audience, or face masks for nominees attending the ceremony at Union Station in Los Angeles – this year’s hub for a show typically aired from the Dolby Theater. Unlike the largely virtual Golden Globes, Zoom boxes have been closed – although many international hubs and satellite sources will link nominees unable to travel.
Show producers hope to return some of the traditional Oscar glamor, even in a pandemic year. The red carpet is back, but not the crowds; only a handful of media will be allowed on site. (Coverage of the E! Red carpet starts at 3 p.m.) Casual clothing is prohibited. The pre-show on ABC begins at 6:30 p.m. EDT and will include pre-recorded performances of the five Oscar-nominated songs. The ceremony is available to stream on Hulu Live TV, YouTubeTV, AT&T TV, FuboTV and on ABC.com with provider authentication.
Removing the musical interludes (but not the in memoriam segment) from the three-hour show – and dramatically reducing the time it takes for winners to reach the podium – will free up a lot of time in the ceremony. And the producers, led by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, promise a reimagined broadcast.
The Oscars will be more like a movie, Soderbergh said. The show will be shot at 24 frames per second (up from 30), appear larger screen and the presenters – including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Rita Moreno and Zendaya – are considered “members of the cast. “. “The first 90 seconds of the broadcast,” Soderbergh said, “will immediately announce our intention.”
But even a big show may not be enough to save the Oscars from an expected odds slide. Ratings for the awards have soared during the pandemic, and this year’s nominees – many of which are smaller, low-budget dramas – won’t come close to the pulling power of Oscar-winning heavyweights like “Titanic” or “Black Panther”. Last year’s Oscars, when Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win Best Picture, were watched by 23.6 million, a record high.
Netflix topped this year with 36 nominations, including lead nominee “Mank,” David Fincher’s black-and-white drama about “Citizen Kane” co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz. The streamer is still chasing his first Best Picture win; perhaps his best shot this year is Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7”.
But the evening’s top prize, best picture, should go to Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland,” a contemplative character study of a traveling woman (Frances McDormand) in the American West. If he is victorious, he will be one of the lowest budget Best Picture winners of all time. Zhao’s film, populated by non-professional actors, was made for less than $ 5 million. (His upcoming film, Marvel’s “Eternals,” has a budget of at least $ 200 million.)
Zhao is also the favorite for Best Director, a category in which two female directors are nominated for the first time. Emerald Fennell is also nominated for the scathing revenge drama “Promising Young Woman”. Zhao would be only the second woman to win the award for best director in the Academy’s 93 years (after Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”), and the first woman of color.
The story is also possible in the categories of actors. If the winners of the Screen Actors Guild Awards stand – Chadwick Boseman of “My Rainey’s Black Bottom” for Best Actor, Viola Davis for Best Actress; Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”) for Best Supporting Actress; and Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) for Best Supporting Actor – this would be the first time non-white actors have swept the actor categories – and a dramatic reversal of recent “OscarsSoWhite” years.
Several of those awards appear to be locks in, especially for the late Boseman, who would become the third actor to win a posthumous Oscar after Peter Finch and Heath Ledger. Taylor Simone Ledward, Boseman’s widow, has often accepted previous honors on his behalf.
If there is one category less certain, it is the best actress. Davis, who has previously won for her performance in “Fences,” is against Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) and two-time winner McDormand. Tipsters call it a three-way game.
Sunday’s Oscars, delayed by a pandemic, will end the longest awards season of all time – the one that made the season’s industrial cocktail and screening complex virtual. Eligibility was extended until February of this year and, for the first time, a theatrical presentation was not a requirement for nominees. Some films – like “Sound of Metal” – premiered in September 2019.
The pandemic has pushed several expected films out of 2020, but a few bigger budget releases could still win awards. Pixar’s ‘Soul’ seems like a sure thing for Best Animated Feature, and Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ – who attempted last September to lead a cinematic renaissance that collapsed when virus cases rose and that many cinemas were unable to reopen – will likely win for its visuals. effects.
But for the first time, Hollywood’s most prestigious awards will go to films barely released on the big screen. The biggest ticket seller of the top nominees is “Promising Young Woman,” with $ 6.3 million at the box office.
Lately, with the expansion of vaccinations, signs of life have started to appear in theaters – most of which are operating at 50% capacity. Warner Bros. ‘ “Godzilla vs. Kong” grossed around $ 400 million worldwide, which theater owners see as proof that moviegoers are eager for studios to once again release a steady diet of great movies. Right now, the date circled on movie calendars is May 28, when Paramount’s “A Quiet Place Part II” and Disney’s “Cruella” hit theaters – though “Cruella” airs simultaneously for $ 30. .
But it’s been a tough year for Hollywood. Across the world, movie marquees have replaced movie titles with invitations to wear a mask. Streaming services rushed to fill the void, redrawing the balance between studios and theaters – and possibly ending the three-month theatrical exclusivity for new releases forever. A few weeks before the Oscars, one of Los Angeles’ most iconic theaters, the Cinerama Dome, along with ArcLight Cinemas, went bankrupt.
After the pandemic, Hollywood – and the Oscars – may not be quite the same. Or as new WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said when announcing his intention to move films from the studio to streaming, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Follow AP screenwriter Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
For full coverage of this year’s Oscars, visit: https://apnews.com/hub/academy-awards
An Oscar team member looks at a backdrop for the red carpet at Union Station, one of the venues for Sunday’s 93rd Academy Awards, Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)
A design of an Oscar statue against a red carpet background is pictured at Union Station, one of the venues for Sunday’s 93rd Academy Awards, Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello, Pool)
Oscar team member Mike Morrisroe cleans an Oscar statue design on the red carpet at Union Station, one of the venues for Sunday’s 93rd Academy Awards, on Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)
This Focus Features image shows Carey Mulligan in a scene from the movie “Promising Young Woman.” (Focus functions via AP)
This photo combination shows posters for the Oscar nominees for Best Photo, top row left, ‘The Father’, ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’, ‘Mank’, ‘Minari’ ‘, bottom row left,’ Nomadland ‘,’ Promising Young Woman, ‘Sound of Metal’ and The Trial of the Chicago 7. ‘(Sony Pictures Classics / Warner Bros. Pictures, Netflix, A24, Searchlight Pictures , Focus Features, Amazon Studios, Netflix via AP)
A sign announcing this year’s Academy Awards is pictured near the Dolby Theater on Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Dolby Theater is one of the locations used for the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday April 25. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)
A fake Oscar statue is pictured in a gift shop window on Hollywood Blvd., Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. The 93rd Academy Awards will be held at various locations including the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on Sunday April 25. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)
FILE – This combination file photo shows producers Steven Soderbergh, left to right, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins. Soderbergh’s concept for the 93rd Academy Awards show on ABC, Sunday April 25, 2021, which he produced with Sher and Collins, is to treat the broadcast not as a TV show but as a movie. The base of the show will not be at the usual home of the Oscars, but at Union Station, the airy rail hub and Art Deco-Mission Revival of downtown Los Angeles. (AP photo, file)
Director Chloe Zhao, left, appears with actress Frances McDormand on the set of “Nomadland.” (Projector images via AP)
The exterior of Union Station in Los Angeles appears on March 23, 2021. The Oscars are heading to the historic site for the first time this year. With large open spaces and 65 foot high ceilings, it is ideal for a large team and cameras. It has been used in automotive commercials, reality shows, and how-tos. But its beamed ceilings, Spanish tile floors, and stately bronze chandeliers really shine in the cinema where it’s played in train stations, banks, police stations, clubs, and airports. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)
A repeat backdrop for the Oscars red carpet is pictured at Union Station, one of the venues for Sunday’s 93rd Academy Awards, Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello, Pool)
This image released by Netflix shows Chadwick Boseman in “My Rainey’s Black Bottom”. (David Lee / Netflix via AP)
This photo combination shows the Oscar nominees for Best Actor, left to right, Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”; Chadwick Boseman, “The Black Background of Ma Rainey”; Anthony Hopkins, “The Father”; Gary Oldman, “Mank”; Steven Yeun, “Minari”. (Amazon / Netflix / Sony Pictures Classics / Netflix / A24 via AP)