Oscars 2021: Will the Academy Awards Be an in-Person Event This Year?

The Academy Awards are always a star-studded event. Audiences watching on TV look forward to seeing their favorite celebrities walk the red carpet each year. But since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, things are a bit different. Will the 2021 Oscars be an in-person event as usual?

The 2021 Oscars were pushed back to April

Best Picture Award winners for 'Parasite' pose onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020.
Best Picture Award winners for ‘Parasite’ pose onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards on February 09, 2020. | Matt Petit – Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

The 2020 Oscars aired as per usual in February 2020. Aside from Parasite‘s historic win and a few notable moments and speeches, there was nothing particularly out-of-the-ordinary about the event. However, its timing couldn’t have been better, as the first known coronavirus cases in the U.S. began to crop up soon after.

By the summer, it was clear that the pandemic wasn’t slowing down. To give the country more time for vaccines to circulate — and to allow for an extended eligibility period given the delays in the film industry — the Academy pushed back the 2021 Oscars ceremony from February 28 to April 25.

These award shows have been virtual over the last year

Not every event is timed with what’s considered award season. As major music festivals and film premieres were canceled, those behind-the-scenes at award shows worked to find unique solutions to honor the entertainers and their work without endangering anyone.

The MTV Video Music Awards in August 2020 became a part-virtual, part in-person event. Performers wore masks and appeared on various stages. The Emmys in September 2020 was an almost entirely virtual event. So were the Golden Globes, which took the Oscars’ planned February 2021 date.

The Academy Award nominations were announced in March

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The Academy Award nominations are typically announced one month before the ceremony. The qualifying films must all be released before the end of the previous year, with the nominations announced in January. However, because of the adjusted period and ceremony this year, the announcement came on the morning of March 15, 2021.

The usual surprises and snubs accompanied the announcement, made by Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. The biographical drama Mank made out with numerous nominations, as did favorites like MinariNomadlandPromising Young Woman, and Judas and the Black Messiah.

Who can attend the 2021 Oscars?

In addition to the Oscar nominees and their guest(s), past winners often attend. So do other notable celebrities who are presenting or performing. Additionally, anyone can sign up to be a seat filler. This is someone who sits in an audience member’s seat when they get up to accept an award or use the bathroom.

But not in 2021. Variety shared a letter addressed to Academy members: “Those attending the awards in person will be nominees, their guest, and presenters — with an audience of millions watching and cheering from all around the world.” The ceremony will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood as usual, as well as at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.