Usually at this time of year, Oscarologists begin to check out the slate at upcoming fall film festivals and the upcoming theatrical movie schedule to determine which talent and titles will likely land on the ballot next year. But given the surge in coronavirus cases in various areas of the U.S., it is unlikely that even the most rabid cinemaholics will be willing to expose themselves to the disease by heading to the multiplex.
While the 2021 Oscars are expected to be the last time that physical DVD screeners will be sent to voters, it is likely that virtual online links will become the norm. And with many productions shutting down because of the pandemic, the Oscar season will be eight months instead of six with the 93rd Academy Awards moved to April 25 and the eligibility period extended into February.
To get some answers about how COVID-19 will further affect the season, two of our esteemed Oscar Experts — Awards Daily’s Sasha Stone, Variety’s Jazz Tangcay joined me to attempt to look ahead at how the need for social distancing will change the film awards landscape (watch our video discussion above). Tangcay suggests drive-in theaters could make a comeback. I note that festivals like Telluride, Toronto and Venice won’t be as large or as influential, while Tangcay questions whether any talent will even show up at such events.
Stone recalls when she was at the Oscars as “Parasite” won Best Picture right before the pandemic happened and the country shut everything down. Luckily, the 2020 ceremony was held two weeks earlier than usual on February 9 before such health concerns forced the industry into its shutdown.
Speaking of “Parasite,” Stone also fears that smaller independent films might suffer since they can’t hold academy screenings hosted by big-name celebs who draw crowds and spread word of mouth. “Sure, they are still going to be looking at the smaller films, but I don’t know if you can build the same kind of consensus and buzz that you could before.” Stone adds that the problem with VOD and online links is that “voters can stop them after 15 minutes or get bored.”
All three of us acknowledge that there is probably no way that “Parasite” would have become the first foreign language film to win as Best Picture if it came out this year. Stone remembers that the film’s director Bong Joon Ho “went to every single party and event. He was everywhere. And that’s what builds interest, and the trick was to just get people to watch it. He was appearing everywhere and now that is over. If you are Christopher Nolan or David Fincher, you know you don’t really need that because you’ve already got it built in.”
Then I toss around some upcoming titles that feature established talent both in front of the camera and behind that may make the cut. Watch the video above to hear more about what might occur with this year’s Oscar race. And share your thoughts about what might happen to the competition given that communal movie-watching is becoming a liability.