Award shows during the pandemic have been a bit awkward. There have been fires. There have been technical difficulties. There’s been possible sleeping. There have been nominees, usually dressed to the nines, going casual-casual in Hawaiian shirts and hoodies. The Oscars are up next, but its producers — including Academy Award-winner Steven Soderbergh — are promising it will be different. In fact, it will be, they say, downright cinematic.
“I know it’s not going to be like anything that’s been done before, so we’re leaning into that,” Soderbergh said during a press conference with fellow producers Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher. They were short on details, hoping for an element of surprise, but presenters will be playing versions of themselves, reciting dialogue from scripts. “You’ll feel like you’re watching a movie.”
Soderbergh also cryptically referenced how COVID-19 restrictions will be involved, saying, “Masks are going to play a very important role in the story of this evening.”
The tone, however, will not be downer, even though a number of the nominated films, like Nomadland and Judas and the Black Messiah, are. “It’s going to be a very sincere show, and it’s also going to be optimistic,” said Collins, who has also been involved with pandemic era iterations of the Grammys and the Super Bowl halftime show. “It’s going to show us where we can go in the future. And I think that’s exactly what the Oscars needs to be at this time.”
“We have to acknowledge what we’ve been through,” added Sher, “but we also have to fight for cinema.”
The Academy Awards will take place on April 25.