A rep from the Academy Awards reportedly told Variety this week that the annual show honoring the best in film will proceed as normal in 2021. “The Oscars in-person telecast will happen,” said the rep. But The Hollywood Reporter has now released their response to this news and are reporting that several insiders have confirmed that “neither the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nor its Oscars broadcast partner ABC has made any such decision.” Drama around the Oscars? Well, at least some things didn’t change in 2020.
The Academy Awards have already made a handful of amendments to next year’s ceremony in light of the ongoing global pandemic, including pushing its February date back to April 25 (nominations will be announced on March 15). The period of eligibility has been extended from December 31, 2020 to February 21, 2021 in hopes that theaters will be closer to a regular capacity in the new year. The Oscars are also allowing films that premiered only on streaming platforms to be eligible for nominations in 2021.
The Oscars are held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles and according to a publicist close to the award show, producers are exploring different ways to safely move forward with the event inside the 3,400 seat theater. “The Academy has done a walkthrough of the Dolby recently to see all the multiple options,” said the publicist, according to Variety.
If the Oscars move forward with an in-person event it may be a signal that producers believe a vaccine will be widely available by spring, or at least that the typical line up of A-listers who attend the annual event will have no problem gaining access to either early rounds of the vaccine or rapid Covid testing. Variety notes that many of the actors rumored to be in contention for some of next year’s biggest awards are in their 70s and 80s and considered high risk, including Deepa Mehta (Funny Boy), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Meryl Streep (Let Them All Talk), Sophia Loren (The Life Ahead) and Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari). There’s also the issue of travel, with many actors, directors, producers and writers living outside of the US. It’s likely many nominees will be unwilling to travel for the Oscars to California, which has had a high rate of Covid cases and is currently in lockdown.
It’s also worth noting that the Oscars typically take place after several other major awards shows air, which will still be the case next year. The Golden Globes are set to air on February 28 followed by the Critics Choice on March 7, the SAG awards on March 14 and the BAFTA awards on April 11. This year already, several major awards shows were able to successfully bridge the gap between in person and virtual performances and appearances, meaning the Oscars will have plenty of examples on how to create a successful award show in the midst of a pandemic.
The Emmys were the first major acting award show to take place in 2020 and were executed largely without a hitch. Host Jimmy Kimmel successfully steered the evening, which included a handful of in-person appearances by presenters and over 200 live feeds into the homes of this year’s nominees.
In whatever capacity the Oscars air next year, the films chosen will have been selected by a newly-diversified voting cohort of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In July, the Academy brought on 819 new members. Adding big names like Cynthia Erivo, Eva Longoria, Olivia Wilde, Niecy Nash, Zazie Beetz, Ana de Armas, Awkwafina, Constance Wu, Teyonah Parris, Zendaya, John David Washington, Lakeith Stanfield, Brian Tyree Henry and David Gyasi, the makeup of the new members are 45% women and 36% people of colour. Although this is a step in the right direction, it’s important to note that white voters still make up the majority of the 9,000-member voting cohort. It may no longer be #OscarsSoWhite, but it is still #OscarsPrettyDarnWhite.
[video_embed id='1896980']Before you go: The biggest trends from the 2020 Oscars red carpet[/video_embed]