I have been following the Oscars since the 2013 ceremony, starting to get into statistics and being passionate about who would win from my love of Silver Linings Playbook. Then, the 2017 ceremony had the infamous Moonlight vs La La Land moment and the Oscars once again felt alive. The following year, when I had started this very website and was discovering my true love for films, I started to stay up all night in the UK to watch the ceremony and have done so for the past three years.
It seems very clear that the viewing numbers for this year’s Academy Awards will be the lowest yet, due to the pandemic not only affecting the show itself but the films that people watched. There is no Joker or Black Panther to entice a large crowd of people to say they have seen a major contender. There may be people who watch in anticipation of a few awards, for example, Chadwick Boseman in Lead Actor, but with a lack of contenders in the cinema this year there will not be much to entice the casual viewer to turn on tonight.
Instead, this year feels like a celebration for the film fans who so heavily relied on the movies we did get this year to keep us sane during the pandemic. I only saw four of the contenders in the cinema this year, and one of them was a Netflix film. However, I did seek to watch every contender this year and the quality is insane. Every single film in the Best Picture lineup is good and every single one of them is a worthy Best Picture winner.
This year, history will be made at the Oscars. With Chloé Zhao being the frontrunner to take home Best Picture and Best Director for her work in Nomadland, as well as a strong chance of women taking home both screenplay awards, this is a year to celebrate the work of women. With the chance that every acting win will go to an actor of a minority ethnic background, from black to the second-ever Asian win for a woman, it is clear that the Academy is ready to reward diversity and have other stories heard.
This year more than ever, films were important to keep us going. In a year where many of us were stuck at home, not able to work or go and see our friends, it was the films and TV that we watched that kept us entertained. It was easy to transport to Arkansas with a Korean family, or following the journey of a Nomad for two hours and forget about this pandemic. These stories kept us sane and were a reminder of the times we have to look forward to in the near future.
Yes, there is a side to award season that can be toxic, particularly online. There has been a trend of people deciding that the only way to lift a contestant is to drag another down. That is not the attitude that is needed right now and I do not like to focus on that. Even if my favourites don’t win this year, it suddenly doesn’t drop the quality of those films. Whilst everyone wants to win an award, it is nice just to be able to look at the nominees and recognise the amount of talent that is there. Sure, I will cheer on Vanessa Kirby to win Best Actress, but I won’t be upset when inevitably someone else takes home the prize.
Especially in the UK, people usually have their one day a year that they stay up all night for. It could be the Super Bowl or some sort of wrestling match, but I have the Oscars. As someone that analyses the Oscars from day one of the festival runs, and someone that plans to write their dissertation on the ceremony, I will always make my one night of staying up late to be for the Academy Awards. This year is certainly not going to be an exception, as I cannot wait to have a few drinks, go on a video call with some other film fans and wear my Emerald Fennell top.
It may have been a tiring year, but today is the day. And I cannot wait to do it all again in 2022.