Oscars 2021: Here’s what to know about Sunday’s potentially historic ceremony
After a two-month postponement, the 93rd Academy Awards is almost here. The Oscars ceremony Sunday is set to be historic, with its most diverse nominations to date and an in-person ceremony that will not permit a Zoom option for nominees.
The road to the 2021 Oscars has been tested by a pandemic that has shaken Hollywood. Amid closures of beloved theaters and the rise of streaming services, the tradition-bound Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had to embrace change for the show to go on.
Here is everything you need to know about the Oscars, coming this weekend.
Where can I watch?
The host-less ceremony will be held at Union Station Los Angeles (where preparations are underway to make the space picture perfect for the grand event) and at the show’s usual home, the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Guests will not be required to wear face masks during the live telecast.
But for those who didn’t get an invitation to attend in person, the show will go live on ABC at 5 p.m. Pacific / 8 p.m. Eastern. Pacific. The pre-show, “Oscars: Into the Spotlight,” will air on ABC as well, at 3:30 p.m. Pacific / 6:30 p.m. Eastern, and will give viewers a behind-the-curtains look at the big night.
For those who prefer a livestream option, the show can be seen on Hulu and YouTube TV, as well as on ABC.com (with a TV provider login).
A letter from the Oscars producers has revealed that the show will be taped live from Union Station with no option to Zoom in.
In the recent past, the ceremony has been about three hours long, which this year’s producers Steven Soderbergh, Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher said wasn’t because of speeches. The trio has encouraged potential winners to “tell a story” and “read the room” when accepting their golden statues.
“Oscars: After Dark,” hosted by actors Colman Domingo (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) and Andrew Rannells (“The Prom”), will close the night, airing on ABC right after the ceremony ends. It will go over the night’s biggest moments, with interviews conducted by film critic Elvis Mitchell.
Netflix still hasn’t had a best picture winner, but with “Mank” and “Trial of the Chicago 7” nominated for the top prize, this might just be the streaming giant’s year.
With 36 nominations, Netflix has the chance to come away with the most awards of the night. Its nominations range from best picture for “Mank” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” to actress in a supporting role for Glenn Close’s performance in the critically-panned drama “Hillbilly Elegy.”
Following Netflix, competitor Amazon Studios has 12 nominations for movies such as “Sound of Metal,” “One Night in Miami ...” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.”
The nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards are the most diverse group ever. Following industry reckonings in recent years over a preponderance of white and male-led nominations, a lot of “first ever” nods this year pleasantly surprised many movie watchers.
A comprehensive guide to which Oscar-nominated films are available on which streaming services, complete with excerpts from Times reviews.
Two women — Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman” — are nominated for achievement in directing, the first time that category has had more than one female nominee. Zhao is also the first Asian woman, and first woman of color, nominated for best director.
“Judas and the Black Messiah,” nominated for best picture, is making Oscars history as the only nominated film ever to have an all-Black producing team. The two leads, LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya, are both up for awards for acting in a supporting role.
For the first time, non-white nominees outnumber white nominees in the best actor category. “Minari’s” Steven Yeun is the first Asian American to land a nomination in the category. Riz Ahmed from “Sound of Metal” also made history as the first Muslim to be nominated for best actor and the first person of Pakistani descent to be named in any acting category. “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer last August, is nominated for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
Viola Davis is also a record breaker, holding the most lifetime Oscar nominations — four — for a Black actress. The 2017 supporting actress winner for “Fences” is nominated this year for lead actress for her work in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
At 89, ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ costume designer Ann Roth ties the record for oldest Oscar nominee with her fifth nomination.
So … who is going to win?
Filling out those Oscar ballots is a tough job, even for people doing it at home.
“Nomadland” has been a front-runner all awards season, locking up best picture wins at the Golden Globes, Producers Guild Awards and the BAFTA Awards. Nothing is guaranteed, though, and the academy has had its fair share of upsets.
The Times’ film experts have predicted which movies will walk away with top prizes, with a lot of buzz around a potential win for Zhao for achievement in directing and Carey Mulligan for actress in a leading role. Read more of their analysis here. And columnist Glenn Whipp’s predictions for winners in all 23 categories.
For an inside look at the voting process, click here to read the ballot picks of three anonymous academy members.
Who is performing?
Although there won’t be another Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper moment, this year’s five nominated original songs will be performed during the “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” pre-show.
Celeste and Daniel Pemberton will perform “Hear My Voice” from “Chicago 7,” H.E.R. will sing “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Leslie Odom Jr. will perform “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami …,” Laura Pausini and Dianne Warren will perform “Io Si (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead” and Molly Sandén will perform “Húsavík” from “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.”
Sandén’s performance will be recorded in Húsavík, Iceland, while the other four performances will happen on the Dolby Family Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.
No songs will be performed during the main ceremony, a break from recent Oscars tradition.
Who is presenting?
This year, the presenters are an “ensemble cast” to go along with what the show producers said was their “awards-show-as-a-movie approach.”
The 2020 winner for achievement in directing, Bong Joon Ho, will return to the Oscars stage to present an award, as well as the winners from the 2020 acting categories — Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon and Renée Zellweger.
Here’s the rest of the star-studded cast:
- Riz Ahmed
- Angela Bassett
- Halle Berry
- Don Cheadle
- Bryan Cranston
- Viola Davis
- Laura Dern
- Harrison Ford
- Regina King
- Marlee Matlin
- Rita Moreno
Is that it?
The Times has been following Oscars buzz all awards season, so stay tuned for our live coverage Sunday night. Keep an eye out for notable speeches and adorable Alan Kim moments.
True suspense in an acting category. Plenty of historic firsts. That ‘Eurovision’ song. The 2021 Oscars have some intrigue.
Only good movies
Get the Indie Focus newsletter, Mark Olsen's weekly guide to the world of cinema.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.