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The Oscars 2021: Everything you need to know

Renée Zellweger accepts her Best Actress award for Judy in 2020

Following postponement due to the pandemic, the Oscars 2021 will take place in April with a rather different set-up to the traditions we have come to expect from the biggest night on the awards-season calendar. From the nominations and performances to the fashion and format, here is everything you need to know


Last year’s Academy Awards took place just weeks before the world came to a halt, with the industry’s most recognizable names and faces coming together to celebrate wins such as Bong Joon-ho’s history-making Parasite, Renée Zellweger for her portrayal of Judy Garland, and Brad Pitt for Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood. Now, in these unprecedented times, there has been much speculation about how the 93rd Academy Awards will go ahead, with at-home red carpets and virtual acceptance speeches seemingly becoming the new normal. While there will undoubtedly be differences, the Academy is still determined to put on a dazzling show.

Amidst the change, there have also been developments for the better to address the numerous callouts in recent years over the Academy Awards’ staggering lack of diversity, following the #OscarsSoWhite movement in 2016. In June 2020, the Academy invited 819 new members to join its voting body. Of the invitees, they announced that 45 percent are women, 36 percent are non-white and 49 percent are from outside the US, with Cynthia Erivo, Ana de Armas, Zendaya, Awkwafina, Constance Wu, Yalitza Aparicio and Eva Longoria among the names.

Rosamund Pike accepts her award for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy for I Care a Lot at this year’s Golden Globes – presented to her by Ben Stiller, via livestream
Audience members including Tom Hanks and Penelope Cruz react to Parasite winning Best Picture at the Oscars in 2020

When, where and how will the Oscars 2021 take place?

While in recent years the ceremony has happened in February or early March, this year the date has been pushed back to April 25, extending the eligibility deadline for movie releases from December 31 to February 28. “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,” jointly announced Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson. “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.”

Rather than inviting all attendees to its usual Dolby Theatre landmark venue, the Academy has announced plans to hold this year’s event at least partly in person but to broadcast from multiple locations – including the Dolby Theatre. It remains to be seen whether it will follow the format of the past two awards seasons, where the ceremony was “host-less” and featured a variety of presenters, guests and performers.

Fashion at the Oscars

The concept of the red carpet has been called into question and turned on its head by the pandemic. No one watching last year’s Academy Awards ceremony could have foreseen that it would be the last time – at least for a while – we’d witness the spectacle of celebrities in their show-stopping gowns and debonair suiting. However, style is integral to the glamour of any awards show, and so, even though the format has changed, the role of fashion remains steadfast.

Red-carpet glitz and glamour at the Oscars 2020 (from left): Scarlett Johansson, Cynthia Erivo, Margot Robbie and Sandra Oh

The 2020 Emmy Awards on September 21 was the first of the big award ceremonies to trial a digital format, with winners, nominees and attendees all tuning in from the comfort of their homes, backyards and hotel rooms. However, the relaxed and, in cases, quotidian settings were in complete contrast to the splendour and flamboyance of their outfits. Zendaya’s full-skirted Armani Privé polka-dot gown was a notable highlight. The same was true of the Golden Globes held earlier this month, where, despite not being ‘present’ at the ceremony itself, winners including Rosamund Pike and Emma Corrin – who dazzled in Molly Goddard and Miu Miu respectively – still made serious sartorial impact on social media.

If these award shows are anything to go by, then the Oscars, despite – or perhaps enhanced – by its pioneering new hybrid format, will be a celebration of the mood-boosting and transformative power of fashion at its finest.

Who is nominated at the Oscars 2021?

Following the extension for eligibility, which opened up entries for a number of movies (both blockbusters and indie releases) that were postponed in 2020, the Oscars 2021 nominations were announced on March 15 by Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas.

Leading the pack is David Fincher’s black-and-white drama Mank, which is up for 10 awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Gary Oldman and Best Supporting Actress for Amanda Seyfried. It is joined in the Best Picture race by Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, The Trial of the Chicago 7, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Father, Sound of Metal and Minari (which lost out on eligibility for Best Picture at the Golden Globes, having been nominated – and won – in the Best Foreign Language category).

Director Chloé Zhao, who has already won a Golden Globe for her film Nomadland, has also been nominated for Best Director at this year’s Oscars

Chloé Zhao became a frontrunner for Best Director following her win at this year’s Golden Globes, where she was the first Asian woman – and only the second woman ever – to take home the accolade, for Nomadland. Emerald Fennell is also in the running for Best Director for Promising Young Woman, meaning that, for the first time in the Awards’ 93-year history, more than one woman has been recognized in the category. Joining Fincher, Zhao and Fennell on the shortlist is Lee Isaac Chung for Minari and Thomas Vinterberg for Another Round.

In the Best Actress category, Frances McDormand for Nomadland, Viola Davis for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman, Vanessa Kirby for Pieces of a Woman, and Andra Day for The United States Vs. Billie Holiday (for which she picked up the award at the Golden Globes) are all in the running. The Best Supporting Actress list sees Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari) and Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) nominated.

Chadwick Boseman could receive the Best Actor award posthumously for his powerhouse performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – the final role of his career before his death last August. He is nominated alongside Oldman (Mank), Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Steven Yeun (Minari). Daniel Kaluuya has had a very successful awards season so far for his portrayal of Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. He is nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category with his co-star Lakeith Stanfield, Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Leslie Odom Jr (One Night in Miami) and Paul Raci (Sound of Metal).

On the Best Original Song list, Celeste (for Hear My Voice from The Trial of the Chicago 7) and H.E.R (for Fight For You from Judas and the Black Messiah) are among the nominees. See all the Oscars 2021 nominations here.

Carey Mulligan and Bo Burnham star in Promising Young Woman, for which Mulligan and its director, Emerald Fennell, have been nominated

How to watch the Oscars 2021

The Oscars will be broadcast live on ABC in the US, and across more than 225 countries and territories internationally. In the UK, it is expected that the awards will be streamed on Sky Cinema’s Oscars channel, which will also be available to watch on NOW TV via the Sky Cinema Pass.

This year’s Oscar winners will be announced at the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony on April 25. You can follow PORTER’s coverage of the Oscars 2021 on Instagram


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