The 93rd Academy Awards will begin at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC. There will be no host, no audience, nor face masks for nominees attending the ceremony at Los Angeles’ Union Station – this year’s hub for a show usually broadcast from the Dolby Theatre. In contrast with the largely virtual Golden Globes, Zoom boxes have been closed out – though numerous international hubs and satellite feeds will connect nominees unable to travel.
Show producers are hoping to return some of the traditional glamor to the Oscars, even in a pandemic year. The red carpet is back, though not the throngs; only a handful of media outlets will be allowed on site. (E! red carpet coverage starts at 3 p.m.) Casual wear is a no-no. The pre-show on ABC begins at 6:30 p.m. EDT and will include pre-taped 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.
Pulling the musical interludes (though not the in memoriam segment) from the three-hour broadcast – and drastically cutting down the time it will take winners to reach the podium – will free up a lot of time in the ceremony. And producers, led by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, are promising a reinvented telecast.
The Oscars will look more like a movie, Soderbergh has said. The show will be shot in 24 frames-per-second (as opposed to 30), appear more widescreen and the presenters – including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Rita Moreno and Zendaya – are considered “cast members.” The telecast’s first 90 seconds, Soderbergh has claimed, will “announce our intention immediately.”
Gone will be the large crowds and throngs of press — with only nominees, their guests, presenters and a handful of media in attendance.
But even a great show may not be enough to save the Oscars from an expected ratings slide. Award show ratings have cratered during the pandemic, and this year’s nominees – many of them smaller, lower-budget dramas – won’t come close to the drawing power of past Oscar 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, was watched by 23.6 million, an all-time low.
Netflix dominated this year with 35 nominations, including the lead-nominee “Mank,” David Fincher’s black-and-white drama about “Citizen Kane” co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz. The streamer is still pursuing its first best-picture win; this year, its best shot may be Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
But the night’s top prize, best picture, is widely expected to go to Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland,” a contemplative character study about an itinerant woman (Frances McDormand) in the American West. Should it