It’s been almost one year since “Parasite” made history as the first foreign-language film to win the Best Picture statue at the Oscars, and the 2021 awards show will also likely be one that goes down in the history books.

Since the last awards ceremony on Feb. 9, 2020, the world, and the film industry itself, has been upended by the Coronavirus Pandemic, with the heart of the industry affected by a continued surge in Los Angeles, and shutdowns in production affecting the return to sets of TV shows and films in the area. However, while things will certainly be different with the awards show because it is taking place during the heart of the pandemic, the show must go on—and will, with some changes.

While not everything is completely set ins tone just yet, here is everything we know so far about the 2021 Academy Awards.


In June 2020, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed in an official statement that due to the ongoing pandemic, the 93rd annual awards show was no longer going to air on its initially planned date of Feb. 28, 2021, but would instead be moved to April 25, 2021, instead. This also led to a shift in eligibility deadlines for those submitting their work for consideration.

“For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year,” Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control.”

The date change is historic itself, as the awards show has traditionally aired in February or March for several years, with the 60th annual awards show in 1988 being the last to occur in April. If the date remains for late April, it will be the fifth-latest show in history, with only the first awards (which took place in May 1929) and third, fourth and fifth awards (which took place in November of 1930-1932) taking place at a later point of the year.

Is It Virtual?

Yes and no. While the huge crowds that usually assemble for outside coverage and red-carpet arrivals are expected to be a definite no-no, some form of an “in-person” event is still planned to be in the works. A source revealed to Variety in December that while exact safety protocols haven’t been decided, the Academy is trying to see how to make things work at the Dolby theatre.

While nothing has been officially set in stone, several other awards shows have adopted different formats to accommodate for the pandemic since it began in March 2020. While shows like the Tony Awards have yet to go on (though a digital show is still reportedly being planned) and others like the Grammys and other film shows postponed, the Primetime Emmys in September did do a hybrid format show, with host Jimmy Kimmel presenting live from Los Angeles and stars participating virtually from around the globe. With different options potentially available, it is unclear what the Academy will do.

New Award Changes

Though the 2021 show will be exempt from changes, it will be the last time the Oscars may face some of the controversial #OscarsSoWhite drama that they have in recent years, with films and acting nominations that predominately featured white casts and production teams often receiving the bulk of acknowledgment. The 2022 show will be the start of diversity and inclusion requirements being met for Best Picture consideration, though eligibility won’t be affected completely until the 2024 show.

The changes will see films being required to meet two of four different standards to meet the new requirements, with options including on-screen representation, themes and narratives; creative leadership and project team; industry access and opportunities and audience development.

This is also set to be the final year where the number of Best Picture nominees will fluctuate between 5-10 contenders, with the 2022 show set to be the first to keep a commitment of 10 nominees. The fluctuating number move came in 2009.

Potential Nominees

Were any movies even released in 2020 that are eligible for Oscar nominations? While the way films were released changed drastically with movie theaters closed, many were still in fact brought to audiences via streaming debuts and in-home on-demand releases. As such, the field is wider than expected and could be the first to see a film that was only released on a streaming platform take home the Best Picture win, which would make history just like “Parasite” did.

Among those potentially history-making nominees? Chatter has been high around the Netflix productions “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Mank” and “Da 5 Bloods,” and well as Amazon’s “One Night in Miami.” Aaron Sorkin could also be in contention for his direction of “Chicago 7,” and Vanessa Kirby, Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Delroy Lindo, Amanda Seyfried, Maria Bakalova, Sacha Baron Cohen and Leslie Odom, Jr are all expected to be contenders for acting awards.

Traditionally the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires at least a seven-day run in Los Angeles theaters for movies to be eligible for Hollywood's biggest prize, the Oscars
Traditionally the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires at least a seven-day run in Los Angeles theaters for movies to be eligible for Hollywood's biggest prize, the Oscars AFP / Mark RALSTON