Oscars 2021: Stars prepare for in-person ceremony

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Carey Mulligan, Daniel Kaluuya and Frances McDormand
Carey Mulligan, Daniel Kaluuya and Frances McDormand are among the acting nominees

Stars are preparing for Sunday's Academy Awards, which will take place across multiple locations worldwide.

Unlike recent awards ceremonies such as the Golden Globes, Baftas and Emmys, the Oscars have asked nominees to attend one of the locations in person.

Mank leads the nominees with 10, but is unlikely to win the night's top prizes.

Instead, films including Nomadland, Minari, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom could perform strongly in some of the major categories.

Here's what to expect from the 93rd Academy Awards.

When do the Oscars take place?

An Oscars billboard in Los Angeles
The main elements of the ceremony will be coming from Los Angeles

The 93d Academy Awards begin at 17:00 PT, which is 01:00 BST on Monday morning for those in the UK.

This year's ceremony is taking place two months later than usual, after the awards season was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the UK, the ceremony will be broadcast on Sky Cinema's dedicated Oscars channel, and streamed on their sister service Now, formerly known as Now TV.

The BBC News website and BBC Radio 5 Live will be providing coverage throughout the night.

How is the ceremony going to work?

A rendering of the set for the 93rd Academy Awards
A mock-up of how this Sunday's Academy Awards will look

The main elements of the ceremony will come from Los Angeles, as usual. The event will be split across two venues in the city - the Dolby Theatre and Union Station.

There will be international locations too. London's BFI will serve as the UK's hub for British nominees, and another studio will be set up in Paris for French nominees.

February's bicoastal Golden Globes were successfully broadcast from two different locations - New York and Los Angeles - although while the hosts and category presenters were in the studio, the nominees had to dial in virtually.

The Oscar nominees have been told to try to avoid appearing via virtual platforms such as Zoom.

The show's producers said they had gone to "great lengths to provide a safe and enjoyable evening" for attendees in person.

Which films have the most nominations?

Minari
Minari is one of eight films nominated for the top category, best picture

The leading nominees are:

  • 10 nominations - Mank

  • 6 - The Father

  • 6 - Judas and the Black Messiah

  • 6 - Minari

  • 6 - Nomadland

  • 6 - Sound of Metal

  • 6 - The Trial of the Chicago 7

See the Oscar nominations in full

Who could the big winners be?

Chloé Zhao
As Nomadland's director, writer, producer and editor, Chloé Zhao could win multiple Oscars

Nomadland is widely expected to win two major categories - best picture and best director for Chloé Zhao.

The film tells the story of a woman named Fern, played by Frances McDormand, who is seen travelling through the American West, taking temporary jobs to earn money and meeting fellow nomads along the way. Many of the film's stars are real-life nomads, rather than professional actors.

Zhao is one of two female directors nominated this year, alongside Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell, marking the first time two women have ever been nominated for best director in a single year.

Chadwick Boseman, who died last summer, could win best actor for his performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. He has won the same award at most other ceremonies this year - although not the Bafta (which went to Sir Anthony Hopkins) or Independent Spirit (which was won by Riz Ahmed).

Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) and Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari) are likely to be taking home best supporting actor and supporting actress respectively, judging by their previous wins this awards season.

Mank, the black-and-white drama starring Gary Oldman as Citizen Kane writer Herman J Mankiewicz, may have the most nominations, but is unlikely to win any of the major categories. It could scoop some technical prizes, however, such as production design.

Why is best actress race so unpredictable?

Viola Davis with her husband
Viola Davis, pictured with her husband, is one of several best actress nominees who have already won prizes this awards season

The best actress category is by far the most interesting and hardest-to-call this year.

Four of the five nominees have already won at least one major best actress award this season:

  • Andra Day won the Golden Globe for her performance in The United States vs Billie Holiday

  • Viola Davis won the Screen Actors Guild prize for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

  • Carey Mulligan's performance in Promising Young Woman scooped her an Independent Spirit and Critics' Choice award

  • Frances McDormand was named best actress at the Baftas for her performance in Nomadland

Meanwhile, the fifth nominee, Vanessa Kirby from Pieces of a Woman, won the best actress prize early in the season at the Venice Film Festival. That may not traditionally be one of the big Academy indicators, but in recent years it has occasionally pre-empted Oscar victories for the likes of Emma Stone and Olivia Colman.

In other words, this category is wide open.

Which Brits are in the race?

Writer's Guild Awards
Sound of Metal star Riz Ahmed, pictured at the Writer's Guild of America Awards, is nominated for best actor

The eight British acting nominees range from Ahmed, who receives his first Oscar nomination for playing a drummer who loses his hearing in Sound of Metal, to Sir Anthony Hopkins, whose performance as a man who loses his grip on reality in The Father earns him his sixth nomination.

At 83, he is the oldest person ever to be nominated for best actor. Sir Anthony and Ahmed are joined on the award's five-strong shortlist by Oldman, who won the trophy three years ago for playing Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour.

Carey Mulligan is nominated for Promising Young Woman. The revenge thriller also earns Fennell - best known for her acting in Call the Midwife and The Crown - nominations for best picture and best original screenplay as well as best director.

Kirby, who made her name on The Crown, is nominated for playing a traumatised mother in Pieces of a Woman, while Kaluuya and Sacha Baron Cohen are up for best supporting actor for Judas and the Black Messiah and The Trial of the Chicago 7 respectively.

Kaluuya portrays former Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton, while Cohen plays activist Abbie Hoffman, one of the major figures who protested against the Vietnam War at 1968's Democratic National Convention.

Olivia Colman is nominated in the best supporting actress category for her role in The Father.

Other British nominees include singer Celeste for best song, for her contribution to The Trial of the Chicago 7; and Aardman's A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, which is up for best animated film.