In an awards season dominated by zoom glitches and winners sharing the screen with family, friends and beautiful dogs named Ziggy, the Oscars has decided it’s against it.
According to a report in Variety, the Academy Awards have written to nominees to let them know there will be no zoom acceptance speeches allowed at the April 25 (April 26, Australian time) ceremony in Los Angeles.
In order words, if you’re not there in person when your name is called, you don’t get to patch in from the other side of the world for your moment under the spotlight. You’ll get a “So and so couldn’t be here tonight and we accept this award on their behalf”.
The Oscars’ stance is in stark contrast to the award ceremonies of the past 12 months that have been conducted primarily virtually, with varying degrees of success. Perhaps it’s fearful of a repeat of the Golden Globes which had numerous audio glitches, had muted and then cut-off Daniel Kaluuya and cut back early from ad breaks to the announcer ramping up the small audience to applause.
Or perhaps, the Oscars are more concerned about Golden Globes’ dismal TV broadcast ratings this year.
Even with those production risks, it seems like an unreasonable rule to mandate during a global pandemic when widespread travel restrictions and high infection rates are still the norm in many parts of the world.
Many of the nominees this year are based outside of California. For example, if double nominee Sacha Baron Cohen, up for an Adapted Screenplay award for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and Best Supporting Actor for The Trial of the Chicago 7, wanted to be present if he won, he would need to fly to Los Angeles from Sydney, where he is now based, and then quarantine in a hotel for two weeks on his return.
And if Baron Cohen makes the trip over and lose both categories, he wouldn’t even have a little gold statue for company while locked down.
Many of those nominated for their work on contender Promising Young Woman, including Carey Mulligan and director and writer Emerald Fennell are based in the UK. Meanwhile Another Round director Thomas Vinterberg, nominated in Best Director and Best International Feature, is based in Denmark and The Father director Florian Zeller, nominated in Adapted Screenplay, lives in Paris.
The no zoom decision came down in a letter from the ceremony’s producers, director Steven Soderbergh, Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher.
Variety reported the trio had written: “We are going to great lengths to provide a safe and enjoyable evening for all of you in person, as well as for all the millions of film fans around the world, and we feel the virtual thing will diminish those efforts.”
Those “great lengths” include on-site testing capabilities and a COVID safety team.
The letter also outlined the dress code can be formal but it can’t be casual. So, no tie-dye hoodies allowed.
The ceremony will be held at Los Angeles’ Union Station, a more “intimate” location than its usual home of the Dolby Theatre, although some show elements will still take place at the Dolby. The Academy has yet to announce a host.
This year’s crop of nominations include a diverse group including nine performers from culturally diverse backgrounds and two women – Emerald Fennell and Chloe Zhao – nominated in the Best Director category.
Mank leads with the most nominations at 10 nods but Nomadland is, for the moment, considered the frontrunner for Best Picture.
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