Film

Oscars 2021

The show will go on

See

What: 93rd annual Academy Awards

When: 5:00 pm Sun., Apr. 25

Where: ABC, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV

Info: http://www.oscars.org

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Anyone who’s ever attended an Academy Awards screening at the Pickford Film Center knows Bellingham audiences don’t mess around when it comes to celebrating cinema.

Pre-pandemic, patrons filled the seats of the independent movie theater on Bay Street even on nights when dressy attire wasn’t encouraged, content with perfectly popped popcorn, a beverage close at hand and a quality flick. But when the annual awards ceremony recognizing cinematic achievements rolled around and they had the opportunity to view the action on the big screen, they’d miraculously transform from mild-mannered Pacific Northwesterners into Hollywood elite—donning fancy gowns and tuxes, sipping champagne, and noshing on catered appetizers while they discussed the Oscar nominees in the lobby before the event got underway.

This year, the red carpet is in storage and those who’d typically head to the downtown venue to watch the winners accept their awards—as well as to preview a number of the creative contenders showing at the Pickford in advance of the big night—will likely be doing so from the comfort of their own homes. When they do tune in to the broadcast, they’ll find that the 93rd annual Academy Awards itself is behaving a lot differently than usual.

For starters, with theaters shut down for the better part of a year, the event honoring the best in big-screen entertainment saw many wannabe moviegoers watching the films with the biggest buzz on streaming services such as Netflix (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Da 5 Bloods), Hulu (Nomadland), Amazon Prime (Sound of Metal, One Night in Miami), and Disney+ (Soul). It wasn’t an ideal situation, but it did allow for movies that wouldn’t have been eligible to qualify for an Oscar nomination under the prior Academy Board of Governors rules to get their hats in the ring.

Additionally, submission deadlines allowed for pictures released through February 2021 to be included—the first time since 1934 that films that debuted in two different calendar years were eligible for consideration—and the date for the annual telecast was switched from Sun., Feb. 28 to Sun., April 25.

Many details about the broadcast are still under wraps, but what is known is that, for the first time, part of the show will be held at the Union Station in Los Angeles, as well as at its usual venue at the Dolby Theater.

“In this unique year that has asked so much of so many, the Academy is determined to present an Oscars like none other, while prioritizing the public health and safety of all those who will participate,” a spokesperson for the Academy said last month. “To create the in-person show our global audience wants to see, while adapting to the requirements of the pandemic, the ceremony will broadcast live from multiple locations.”

COVID-19 restrictions dictate that only nominees, their guests and presenters will be in attendance at the various locales, so it’ll likely be a more subdued affair than usual. That said, there’s always a surprise or three at the Academy Awards, so don’t discount the “what the hell just happened?” factor when tuning into the Zoom-free ceremony.

Competition is as fierce as ever this year. In the Best Actor category, Gary Oldman (Mank), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Steven Yeun (Minari), Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), and the late Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) will go head-to-head, while Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah), Paul Raci (Sound of Metal), and Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami) will vie for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.

In the Best Actress category, prior Academy Award winners Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Frances McDormand (Nomadland) are the best bets, but Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) can’t be ruled out. For Best Actress in a Supporting Role, thespians include Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Yuh-Jung Young (Minari), and Amanda Seyfried (Mank).

Eight films are up for Best Picture—including The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7—and there’s still time to view them before the ceremony.

To get a peek at other Academy nominees, both the Lincoln Theatre and the Pickford are offering virtual screenings of the Oscar-Nominated Short Films in Animated, Live Action, and Documentary categories being presented by ShortsTV. The Lincoln has already hosted limited-capacity live screenings of some of the Best Picture nominees, and the Pickford is gearing up for a May 7 opening. With any luck, they’ll even be able to host screenings of some of this year’s Academy Award winners.

The Pickford’s ventilation system has been retrofitted and plans for keeping the audience safe have been worked out—including limited and assigned seating and the following of other COVID-19 guidelines. It’s probably too early to purchase a gown for the PFC’s 2022 Academy Awards celebration, but it’s not too soon to dream.

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