An Oscars red carpet unlike any before got underway on Sunday night, with no crowd, socially-distanced rules and fewer cameras amid the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Tiara Thomas and Diane Warren kicked off the 93rd annual Academy Awards, which took place at Union Station.
The attendees both chose white suits for the awards show, with Tiara opting for a racy version while Diane opted for a sparkling element.
Here goes! An Oscars red carpet unlike any before got underway on Sunday night, with no crowd, socially-distanced rules and fewer cameras amid the ongoing Covid pandemic. Tiara Thomas and Diane Warren kicked off the 93rd annual Academy Awards, which took place at Union Station
The red carpet looked similar to how it did last year except there were far fewer people as there are social distancing restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has allowed only 170 people to attend this year rather than the normal 3,000.
This marks the first time Tinseltown’s finest have assembled in over a year, for a three-hour show that co-producer Steven Soderbergh has described as being ‘like a movie.’
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is hosting the delayed ceremony at the historic Union Station in Los Angeles, California where socially distanced movie stars can go mask-free while on-camera or seated in the main show room.
Glamour: Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell looked incredible in a soft green, purple and gold gown with ruffle details all over
Built in 1939, the national historic landmark and its main terminal is 161,000 square feet, creating plenty of room for theatrics on Hollywood’s biggest night.
During normal times, when COVID restrictions haven’t crimped travel, more than 100,000 people a day walk through its halls.
Comparatively the Dolby Theatre, where the glitzy event is usually held, can only seat around 3,300 people which would have created difficulties in putting on an award show amid the pandemic.
But in the spacious station, believed to be large enough to accommodate social distancing requirements with its soaring main hall featuring windows that are 40-feet high, stars have more room to mingle and maneuver.
Sticking to a ‘No Zoom’ policy unlike other shows that have taken place this awards season, Academy organizers have teased a ‘British hub’ for UK actors who are unable to make it in person, as well as another rumored ‘surprise location.’
Dapper: Leslie Odom Jr. rocked a gold suit, complete with a matching button-up beneath; Leslie is nominated for two Oscars: Best Supporting Actor for his role in One Night in Miami and Best Original Song for film’s main song Speak Now
Glitz: Minari director Lee Isaac Chung arrived with his wife Valerie Chung, who looked lovely in a patterned gold gown
During a year that saw movie theatres closed due to the pandemic, there were eight new films that did manage to impress Academy voters enough to be in contention for Hollywood’s biggest award, the Oscar for Best Picture (last year there were nine nominees in the category.)
Pulling the musical interludes (though not the in memoriam segment) from the three-hour broadcast – and drastically cutting down the time it will take winners to reach the podium – will free up a lot of time in the ceremony. And producers, led by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, are promising a reinvented telecast.
The Oscars will look more like a movie, Soderbergh has said. The show will be shot in 24 frames-per-second (as opposed to 30), appear more widescreen and the presenters – including Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Harrison Ford, Rita Moreno and Zendaya – are considered “cast members.” The telecast’s first 90 seconds, Soderbergh has claimed, will “announce our intention immediately.”
Low key: The Oscars red carpet was quiet this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The red carpet seen just before the show kicked off
Another angle: The normally buzzing awards show – and the last one before the end of awards season – appeared deserted just before the show began
What a difference a year makes: The socially distance red carpet seen on Sunday afternoon
While blockbusters may be absent this year, there have been a wide range of movies that have caught the attention of Academy voters, including the lavish Mank, Netflix’s ode to the Golden Age of Hollywood, starring Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried.
Another strong contender is Minari, an indie drama about Korean immigrants scraping out a living off the land in rural America, written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung and starring Steven Yeun.
The eight films in the top category this year are The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7.
It is the first time that two female directors have ever been nominated in the Best Director category, with Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) both receiving nods. Netflix dominated this year with 36 nominations, including the lead-nominee Mank, David Fincher’s black-and-white drama about Citizen Kane co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz. The streamer is still pursuing its first best-picture win; this year, its best shot may be Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7.
But the night’s top prize, best picture, is widely expected to go to Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, a contemplative character study about an itinerant woman (Frances McDormand) in the American West. Should it be victorious, it will be one of the lowest budget best-picture winners ever. Zhao’s film, populated by nonprofessional actors, was made for less than $5 million. (Her next film, Marvel’s Eternals, has a budget of at least $200 million.)
Zhao is also the frontrunner for best director, a category that has two female filmmakers nominated for the first time. Also nominated is Emerald Fennell for the scathing revenge drama “Promising Young Woman.” Zhao would be just the second woman to win best director in the academy’s 93 years (following Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker”), and the first woman of color.
Only five women have ever been nominated in the category before.
History is also possible in the acting categories. If the winners from the Screen Actors Guild Awards hold – “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’s” Chadwick Boseman for best actor, Viola Davis for best actress; Yuh-Jung Youn (“Minari”) for best supporting actress; and Daniel Kaluuya (“Judas and the Black Messiah”) for best supporting actor – it would the first time nonwhite actors swept the acting categories – and a dramatic reversal from recent “OscarsSoWhite” years.
Several of those awards appear to be locks, particularly for the late Boseman, who would become the third actor to ever win a posthumous Academy Award following Peter Finch and Heath Ledger. Taylor Simone Ledward, Boseman´s widow, has often accepted previous honors on his behalf.
If there’s one less certain category, it’s best actress. Davis, who has won previously for her performance in “Fences,” is up against Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) and two-time winner McDormand. Prognosticators call it a three-way toss up.
Suited and booted: Lil Rel Howery arrives at the Oscars in a velvet black blazer with matching shirt and bow tie
Stylish: The 41-year-old Bad Trip actor flashes a semi peace sign as she wore large sunglasses
An official spokesperson called this year’s event ‘an Oscars like none other, while prioritizing the public health and safety of all those who will participate.’
The Academy and ABC will certainly be hoping that their ambitious plans will drum up more excitement than they have elsewhere during a dismal award seasons, after the virtual Golden Globes plunged to 6.9 million viewers this year – a 64 percent drop from 2020.
Ready to roll: Paul Raci, left, in a black suit and Liz Hanley Raci in a teal gown