Oscars 2021 Ceremony Pushed to April—How Will the Move Affect Black Filmmakers and Actors?

Oscars statuettes are on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards on February 09, 2020, in Hollywood, California.
Oscars statuettes are on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards on February 09, 2020, in Hollywood, California.
Photo: Matt Petit - Handout (A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)

The world is shifting as we attempt to adjust to a post-COVID era—and Hollywood certainly isn’t exempt.

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and the ABC Television Network announced on Monday that the 93rd Academy Awards will be pushed to Sunday, April 25, 2021. The ceremony was originally scheduled to occur on Feb. 28, 2021. It was expected that the newly elected Governors Board would discuss telecast date plans during their recent meeting last week.

As Deadline noted, this would be the latest date ever for the telecast in the ceremony’s history. The 1927-1929 ceremony was held on May 16 and there was even a time between 1930 and 1932 that the ceremony took place in November, but that was well before the ceremony began being broadcast on television (1953). Though it will be held later in the month, it appears 2021 is taking a nod from the 1960s and early ‘70s when the ceremony took place in April.

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More info, via a press release from the Academy, sent to The Root:

Dates also have shifted for the Academy Awards eligibility period, submission deadlines and related awards season events. The eligibility period for Academy Awards consideration has been extended beyond the standard December 31 deadline: a feature film must now have a qualifying release date between January 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021. The submission deadline for specialty categories (Animated Feature Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, International Feature Film, Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film) is December 1, 2020. The submission deadline for general entry categories, including Best Picture, Original Score and Original Song, is now January 15, 2021. Visit oscars.org/rules for the complete 93rd Academy Awards rules, revised with these dates and deadlines.

During this time, it has become necessary to make exceptional changes to the Academy’s standard annual awards schedule. The intent going forward is to ultimately return to awarding excellence for films released in the January-December calendar year. Future eligibility windows and the Oscar show date for 2022 will be announced at a later date.

Recently, the Academy pledged to tackle diversity and equity efforts in a phased called “Academy Aperture 2025" with initiatives such as strictly setting the number of eligible films within the Best Picture category to 10, instead of the previous varying number.

While noting that the Academy’s decision to loosen its strict theatrical release rules is a benefit for indie films, Refinery29’s Anne Cohen suggested the ceremony’s pushed date “reads as the Academy going out of its way not to nominate the kinds of underdog movies that have fallen through the cracks in the past.” Plus, industry experts have theorized that films that come out earlier in the year have less advantage than those that come out later in the year—and closer to the Academy’s eligibility deadline and ceremony telecast, as it is fresher in voters’ minds.

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Cohen worries about how the new date will affect films such as Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Channing Godfrey People’s Miss Juneteenth, Nia DaCosta’s Candyman (which has been pushed to September), Rashad Ernesto Green’s Premature, each of which could possibly score some nods in the acting and technical categories alike—if they’re not forgotten in the pile.

To me, it could go either two ways (and two extremes): either these extensions will, in fact, allow the Oscars to become even whiter or the Academy will still feel the timely pressure of diversifying its slate in yet another round of trendy consolation prizes for the “colored” folks before going right back to regularly scheduled whitewashed programming. I guess we’ll see.

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Additionally, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures was initially scheduled to open on Dec. 14, 2020, but will now open on April 30, 2021. It looks like it’ll serve as a grand finale event for Oscars Week that year.

“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. 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,” Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “This coming Oscars and the opening of our new museum will mark an historic moment, gathering movie fans around the world to unite through cinema.”

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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