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Friday, 25 June 2021

Oscars in the time of the COVID: 93rd Academy Awards at two locations, plenty suspense

Egyptian film aficionados will be able to watch the ceremony at 2am on Monday, an event which is expected to bring many surprises to a big selection of remarkable films, actors, directors and crew members

Mona Sheded, Sunday 25 Apr 2021
Oscars 2021

The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, organised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is facing a great challenge this year due to the exceptional conditions the whole world is living through right now due to the coronavirus.

The Academy insists on holding a live physical ceremony and not a virtual one on the internet, like what happened in the Golden Globes, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice Awards.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for Sunday 25 April at 8pm Los Angeles time, USA, which falls at 2am Monday 26 April Cairo time.

For the first time, the main ceremony will take place in parallel at two locations: at the Historical Union Station downtown Los Angeles, which has been featured in over 150 films, and the Dolby Theatre and Highland Centre in Hollywood. This will be topped with other international locations via satellite for nominees unable to travel or quarantined.

Attendance will be limited to award nominees, their guests and the presenters, who will include last year Oscar winners Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt, Joaquin Phoenix, Bong Joon Ho and Laura Dern, along side stars Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno and Zendaya.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, Emmy-nominated producer Jesse Collins and Oscar-nominated producer Stacey Sher will produce the 93rd Oscars with the theme "Bring Your Movie Love", as it was announced in a virtual press conference, adding that "the show will be produced as-a-movie approach."

There were some concerns over COVID-19 affecting filmmaking in the last year but despite some fears we can see eight films with powerful stories competing for the Best Picture award; The Father by Florian Zeller; Judas and the Black Messiah by Shaka King; Mank by David Fincher; Minari by Lee Isaac Chung; Nomadland by Chloé Zhao; The Trial of the Chicago seven by Aaron Sorkin; Promising Young Woman by Emerald Fennell and Sound of Metal by Darius Marder.

Nomadland is nominated for six Oscars. A winner of 227 awards, the film is predicted to win at least in two categories best picture and best director for Chloé Zhao.

Zhoa made history in this year’s award season as the first Asian female filmmaker to win best director at the Golden Globes, Directors Guild awards DGA, the British Academy Film Awards BAFTA and the second woman ever to win best director at the BAFTA.

Zhao is also the first Asian woman to be nominated for an Oscar in four different categories in the same year: directing, adapted screenplay, editing and for best picture as a co-producer, alongside Frances McDormand, who is also the first actress nominated for acting and producing for the same film.

Nomaland tells the story of Fern a widow in her 60s, whose husband died of cancer. Her van became her house and she lives a nomadic life, moving from one place to another in the American West, working in occasional jobs and making new friends in the nomads’ community.

For many years male filmmakers dominated the Oscar’s best director category, with only five women nominated for this award in the past 92 editions. However, this year for the first time in the Academy Awards’ history, two women were nominated for this award: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman.

Emerald Fennell is also competing in two other categories for the same film: Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture as a co-producer, and gave Carey Mulligan her second Oscar nomination for best actress on her role as a traumatised woman seeking revenge.

It looks like “Oscar so white” became old history now, diversity is the new theme, and this year might be the first year in the Academy’s history that all the acting awards are won by all people-of-color actors, six in total of black actors and actresses are competing in these categories, in addition to two from Asian origins and one Pakistani.

The late Chadwick Boseman would get the best actor in a leading role for his touching performance as an ambition musician in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, despite the hard competition with two of the past Academy-awards winners Antony Hopkins for The Father and Gary Oldman for Mank, in addition to the new comers - Riz Ahmed a British-Pakistani actor and rapper, for his role in Sound of Metal and South Korean-born American actor Steven Yeun for his role in Minari.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom gave Viola Davis her fourth Oscar nomination and might be her second win as best actress in a leading role, if she manages to beat Frances McDormand for Nomadland, Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman, Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman and Andra Day for The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

After winning a Golden Globe, BAFTA and Screen Actors’ Guild awards, Daniel Kaluuya might get his first Oscar as an actor in a supporting role for Judas and the Black Messiah.

He is competing for this category with his co-star LaKeith Stanfield as well as with Leslie Odom JR. for his role in One Night in Miami, Paul Raci for Sound of Metal and Sacha Baron Cohen for The Trial of the Chicago 7.

South Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn could get best actress in a supporting role for her role as the grandmother in Minari, she is competing for it with Olivia Colman for The Father, Amanda Seyfried for Mank, Glenn Close for Hillbilly Elegy and Maria Bakalove for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Two films by Arab filmmakers are competing for an Oscar this year in different categories: The man who sold his skin by Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania is nominated for Best International Feature Film and The Present by British-Palestinian filmmaker Farah Nabulsi is nominated for Short Film (Live Action).

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