We've spent roughly a year without movie theaters, and it sure hasn't been easy. With COVID-19 quarantine restrictions in place, there's been nowhere to go to watch some of Hollywood's greatest productions.
Just kidding. Movies are everywhere these days, just not on the big screen, and if you've wanted to catch them, they've almost all been either on TV, or streaming apps, or both.
So where does this leave the 2021 Academy Awards, an event designed to celebrate the best in big screen entertainment?
Well, don't worry: the 93rd annual Academy Awards are still going to happen, but it's going to look and feel quite different from in years past. Here's a quick primer on everything we know that you need to know about the biggest night in the movies ... just writ a bit smaller:
When are the Oscars happening?
The 93rd annual Academy Awards, designed to honor the best films released between Jan. 1, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021, will take place at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on April 25.
How can I watch the Oscars?
The live show, which will be on ABC starting at 8 p.m. ET, was originally supposed to air Feb. 28, but the ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19. The show will also be livestreamed on the ABC app.
For the first time part of the show will be held at L.A.'s Union Station, along with its usual venue of The Dolby Theater, but there aren't a lot of details otherwise. Thanks to the pandemic restrictions, only nominees, their guest and presenters are being permitted to attend, according to an email from Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president David Rubin, per USA Today.
Isn't April a little late for the Oscars?
It sure is: Most Academy Award shows are held in late February or early March.
The disruption in the industry due to quarantines, which led to entire productions being put on hiatus or shut down, has sent everyone into a spin. In addition, the eligibility period was expanded to cover films released as late as the end of February.
This is only the fourth time the Oscars have been postponed. The others were following Los Angeles flooding in 1938; after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
It is also the first time since the sixth awards ceremony in 1934 that films released in two different calendar years are eligible for consideration in the same ceremony.
All of my favorite movies have been on TV! Will they be eligible?
That depends. Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) makes tweaks small and large to rules and regulations surrounding the industry's most prestigious award.
This year, criteria was modified to account for films that were supposed to have been released in theaters but ultimately went directly to video (since no one would have seen them in theaters). Usually, films are required to have an exclusive seven-day run in theaters to qualify, but this year, some streaming-only films are in the running.
So, who's been nominated?
Here's your full list of nominees, and a list of surprises and snubs from this year's choices. Some big questions being asked are: Will Riz Ahmed become the first Muslim man to win best actor (for "Sound of Metal")? Will a woman win best director for just the second time at the Oscars (several are nominated)? And what about Anthony Hopkins, from "The Father"? If he wins, he'll be the oldest best actor winner ever. So many superlatives!
What are some of the movies with the biggest buzz, and where can I find them?
This is a shortlist of the films most likely to grab the big awards like best picture, best director, best actor and best actress. Here's where you can find them:
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix)
"Sound of Metal" (Amazon Prime)
"One Night in Miami" (Amazon Prime)
"The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix)
Who's hosting the Oscars this year?
No one has been announced. The show has had no host for the past two years, and it seems this year will continue that tradition. But there are plenty of A-list presenters who were announced in mid-April, including 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.
More are expected in the weeks leading up to the ceremony.
What other changes have been made for 2021?
Aside from the changes mentioned above, they're very specific, wonky changes: Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories have been, well, mixed down into one category; and now the Original Score category will require that 60 percent of the entry be original music to qualify, to state two examples.
If you want to know more, here's a full list of the changes for this year.
What are the new diversity and inclusion standards?
The representation and inclusion standards, announced in September 2020, have the aim of providing more awards to a wider selection of worthy recipients. As noted in its news release, the Academy wrote, "The standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the moviegoing audience."
The new rules will not affect any films in the running for the next several years, and only go into effect in 2024. They are meant to create a more diverse selection of individuals on screen and behind the scenes, all the way into the studios and marketing departments. You can read the specifics here.
Films that do not wish to adhere to the Academy's standards are still free to do so, but may not be eligible for the Oscars.
The full list of current rules and eligibility for films is here.
Has history already been made with this year's nominations?
It sure has. For the first time in Oscar history, two men of Asian decent are up for the best actor award at the same time: Steven Yeun ("Minari") and Riz Ahmed ("Sound of Metal"). Ahmed is also the first person of Pakistani descent and the first Muslim to be nominated for best actor.
In addition, Chadwick Boseman, who earned his first Oscar nomination for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (and who died in August 2020 at age 43) is just one of eight performers who have earned the Academy Award nomination posthumously, and the only Black actor.
Anthony Hopkins, 83, is now the oldest nominee for best actor ("The Father") and if he wins the prize this year he'll be the oldest acting recipient in any category.
Yuh-Jung Youn, 73, became the first Korean nominated for an acting Oscar, while Viola Davis became the most-nominated Black female actor ever, picking up a fourth nomination for "Ma Rainey's." She's also the only Black woman to earn two best actress nominations.
Chloé Zhao ("Nomadland") is the first Chinese woman and the first woman of color to be nominated for best director.
We expect there will be many more superlatives to mention after April 25!