What to expect at the 2021 Oscars ceremony

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Jared Alexander
·4 min read
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The 93rd Academy Awards will be unlike any show before it

It’s officially one of the biggest weeks in Hollywood! Set to air on Sunday, we’re counting down to this year’s Oscars ceremony, which is set to be unlike any ceremony before it.

After major setbacks to the ceremony (and the film industry at large) due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Oscars is finally returning to our screens this weekend. The circumstances surrounding the ceremony are drastically different than any year thus far, and according to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, that explicitly informed the way the academy approached the ceremony this year.

Preparations For The 93rd Annual Academy Awards
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 19: Oscars signage is seen during preparations for the 93rd Annual Academy Awards on April 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Read More: Black talent dominates Oscars nominations + full list

Set to be “shot like a movie,” this year’s ceremony will speak to the immense impact COVID-19 has had on the world, with face masks playing a “big role” in the broadcast. During a virtual press conference, the 93rd Oscars producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh revealed specific details and information on what we should expect at the highly anticipated show.

It will be a cinematic experience

Speaking to the new nature of this year’s ceremony, producer Steven Soderbergh revealed, “We’re just trying to create an experience that has the aesthetics of a film as opposed to a TV show.” From using a wider screen format and shooting at 24 fps, the ceremony will look unlike any Oscars ceremony we have seen before.

The show will also be music directed by Questlove, who is overseeing the musical aspects of the ceremony. “You’ll feel like you’re watching a movie,” Soderbergh insisted.

A “cast” of presenters

The presenters will be weaved into a “story” during the ceremony, changing the usual format of the broadcast. Taking it a step further, the producers refer to the presenters as “the cast,” playing versions of themselves in the show.

“The presenters will be playing themselves or at least a version of themselves…we’re hoping that they will bring part of their experience and their movie love to what they say. We really want people to say something.”

A new red carpet

As the Oscars ceremony made significant shifts due to the pandemic, so has the red carpet, a staple at the Academy Awards. Sher explained when describing the red carpet, “It’s not a traditional red carpet. It’s a teeny tiny red carpet!”

While the red carpet was understandably sized down for safety reasons, it is just a small part of a restructured pre-show program that includes music performances, interviews, and more to usher in the main event.

The COVID of it all

Soderbergh described the experience of working with COVID-19 while preparing the ceremony as “incredibly labor-intensive” and complex. Still, he ensures that a through line will be intertwined with the entire theme of the show.

“There is that sort of strand that is going to run throughout the program of following the science, of keeping people safe,” he explained. “Having said that, the whole situation has been incredibly fluid in terms of making sure that we are adhering to the guidelines in terms of capacity, and what we’re — how we are allowed to move people, how long we are allowed to keep them in certain places. This is an ongoing, live conversation with L.A. County.”

Collins also shed light on the professionals and scientists assisting in the creation of this ceremony. He explained, “we have surrounded ourselves with the best people in the world to tell us how to execute the creative vision of the show. And so we lean on that. L.A. County has been extremely supportive and helpful in guiding us to this, and now we are here.”

92nd Annual Academy Awards - Backstage
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 09: In this handout photo provided by A.M.P.A.S. Award envelopes are held backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Petit – Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

Read More: Jesse Collins to produce Oscars with Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh

Check out the star-studded list of presenters below:

Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Bong Joon Ho, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger and Zendaya.

The 93rd Annual Academy Awards is set to air on Sunday, April 25 at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT, while the pre-show Oscars: Into the Spotlight will air at 6:30 p.m. EDT/3:30 p.m. PDT.

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