Oscars 2021: What time are the 93rd Academy Awards on TV and how can I watch live in the UK?
The 93rd Academy Awards is this Sunday, April 25, but with the US still in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic, the glitzy ceremony will be a very different occasion again this year.
Delayed by two months, the Oscars have had plenty of time to learn from the mistakes of the Golden Globes, where Zoom glitches and technical mishaps overshadowed the evening.
The Academy Awards, however, are determined that the show must go on. In March, producers issued all nominees with strict instructions that participants could only attend the ceremony in person and dressed in “a fusion of the Inspirational and Aspirational”. In short, no sweatshirts, no Skype, and no awkward small talk.
But for UK-based nominees this year, there will be the option to attend a London based satellite hub which will be linked with the main ceremony.
Below, we’ve compiled everything you need to know to tune into the ceremony this weekend. Black tie optional.
When is the 2021 Oscars ceremony?
The ceremony for the 93rd Academy Awards takes place on April 25 in the US, airing live on US TV station ABC at 8pm Eastern Daylight Time (midnight on April 26 UK time). The spring celebration is a marked delay from its usual date in February.
The show is expected to last three hours, and will see 23 competitive awards given out.
How can I watch the 2021 Oscars in the UK?
Sky Cinema will air the event in full on its sub-channel Sky Cinema Oscars, followed by a highlights reel on Sky One. The Sky coverage will also be streamed online through Now. Existing Sky TV customers can sign up to Sky Cinema for £11 a month, or you can pay £11.99 a month for Now’s Sky Cinema Pass. Although there’s a handy loophole for the latter: you can get a seven-day free trial.
Where will the 2021 Oscars ceremony take place?
The ceremony will be held across two venues, the first will be outdoors in a courtyard at downtown railway hub Union Station in Los Angeles. According to veteran Oscars director Glenn Weiss and first-time producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh (an apt choice: the director of Contagion), there will also be some “additional show elements” coming live from the Dolby Theatre – which usually hosts the Oscars ceremony.
In a joint statement, the producers stressed that they want the telecast to “look like a movie, not a television show”. Soderbergh has since added that he wants viewers to feel drawn into a cinematic experience, distinct from our lockdown TV viewing, so expect elements like wide-angle lenses and over-the-shoulder camera angles. “I want the whole thing to announce itself out of the gate as different,” Soderbergh said. “It’s going to be wonderfully intense.”
Union Station has itself been used as a filming location in countless movies, including Blade Runner, The Hustler, Speed, Bugsy, The Way We Were, The Italian Job, Silver Streak, and The Dark Knight Rises. For the Oscars, a small amphitheatre has been built on its 110ft ticket counter, and designer David Rockwell has utilised both courtyards, installed a DJ booth for Questlove, created a wraparound screen wall showing pictures of Oscar nominees, set up silver cabaret tables and banquettes for attendees, and woven a ceiling of live flowers with 100 floating lanterns. There will also be a “teeny-tiny” red carpet.
Who is hosting the 2021 Oscars?
The Oscars haven’t had a host for the past two years; the last host was Jimmy Kimmel in 2018. This year will be hosted by an ‘ensemble’ of presenters, including some of last year’s winners, such as Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Laura Dern, Renée Zellweger and Bong Joon Ho.
The producers have promised “guides” to take the audience through this movie-styled ceremony, along with pre-recorded interviews. “Movie storytelling is so unique,” explained Soderbergh. “We have the resources, through the stories the nominees are telling us, to tease out the detail of what makes movies so special, why we connect to them so strongly all over the world.”
Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Soderbergh added: “We debated [having a host]. We weren’t philosophically opposed to it but as the show began to take shape, it felt like it would be better served if each act was approached as a discreet storytelling chapter and you have a guide for each of those chapters.”
Other names confirmed to be taking part are Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Reese Witherspoon and Zendaya.
He hoped that this would help viewers connect with all the nominees, not just the famous ones. “Let’s be honest there are categories that are under siege. There’s a sense of, ‘Well why can’t we just have the people that are known by name publicly or faces are known by publicly get awards and do everything else in another broadcast or another context?’ And we’ve taken it upon ourselves to show that all these people are equal and we’re giving them equal time and equal attention. We’ve mixed up the sequencing of the awards in a way that is hopefully surprising.”
Speaking about the tone of the show, often set by the host, Soderbergh commented: “If we amplify the films themselves that message comes through and we don’t feel the need to piggyback on what they’re trying to say. We just want to present a really open and elegant space for the films to speak and the tone will be different. I think it’ll be joyous. I know there are going to be laughs — there’s some writing that is truly witty and sincere, but we want you to leave your snark at the door. That was part of the reason for the tagline, ‘Bring Your Movie Love’. That’s an innocent request to show up with an open heart and not to be cynical.”
Will nominees actually attend the 2021 Oscars ceremony?
In the main: yes. The producers are urging nominees to show up at what they call “an intimate, in-person event” – and Zoom participation is limited (avoiding the disasters of the Golden Globes). However, the Academy has made a concession for international nominees owing to Covid travel concerns and arranged satellite hubs around the world, including in London and Paris.
Only nominees, along with one guest, and the presenters will be invited to the scaled-down LA ceremony. Those taking part will have at least two COVID-19 tests before the ceremony, and guests attending from outside the UK are quarantining for the required 10 days, as well as taking two tests.
Organisers are also enlisting celebrities for video interviews to be taped ahead of time and broadcast during the show.
There are a number of nominees from the UK this year, including actors Carey Mulligan, Daniel Kaluuya and Anthony Hopkins, and director Emerald Fennell.
For the Brits, there is a London broadcast hub, hosted by BFI Southbank. The Thames-side venue is often used for red carpet premieres, including the London Film Festival, and it has a cinema with a big screen and stage, plus some outdoor space. However, Hopkins has elected to remain in Wales.
Speaking about the remote hubs, Soderbergh said: “We can control the surroundings and make sure, in the case of London, we can have elements within that space that tie you to Union Station. We’re working to make sure that each of those remotes have some direct sort of visual correlation to what we’re doing or at least contribute to the movie-like feel of what we’re doing in terms of where they will be.”
Who will present the awards at the 2021 Oscars?
The starry presenting line-up includes Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Bong Joon-Ho, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger, and Zendaya.
What Covid measures are in place for the 2021 Oscars?
The producers have said that they are treating the event like an active movie set. That means an on-site Covid safety team administering PCR tests, and lots of rules in place, including a 170-person capacity cap at Union Station. Attendees are not required to wear masks on camera, but masks will be “central to the narrative” of the show, according to Soderbergh.
Will there still be speeches during the 2021 Oscars?
Fear not: the tearful, rambling, occasionally political and always OTT acceptance speeches are a go. However, the producers have urged winners to “read the room” and “tell a story”, rather than just listing off names, and to bear in mind that organisers are “aiming for a feeling of casual exchange and good humour”.
Soderbergh added: “We want people to say something, we’re giving them space, and we’ve encouraged them to tell a story and say something personal. We’re giving real estate to the winners to create a moment.”
Will there be performances at the 2021 Oscars?
Yes. Performances from the Best Song nominees will be pre-taped – four from the roof of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (Speak Now from “One Night in Miami, Io Si (Seen) from The Life Ahead, Fight for You from Judas and the Black Messiah, and Hear My Voice from The Trial of the Chicago 7. The fifth, Húsavík from Eurovision Song Contest: The story of Fire Saga, will be recorded in its namesake town in Iceland.
Will the 2021 Oscars be glamorous?
Absolutely. While some awards shows have embraced lockdown fashion (i.e. pyjamas as daywear), the Academy Awards are holding firm. The dress code, per the producers, is “a fusion of Inspirational and Aspirational, which in actual words means formal is totally cool if you want to go there, but casual is really not.” In other words, ditch the hoodie and dust off that tux.
Will there still be 2021 Oscars parties?
Not as we know them. But there will be a 60-minute, pre-show virtual event from Elton John (who won the Best Original Song Oscar last year for Rocketman), raising money for his AIDS Foundation. Neil Patrick Harris will host, alongside John and David Furnish, with a stripped-back performance from Dua Lipa. The special will be hosted on virtual platform Cisco Webex, streamed in the US on April 25 and elsewhere (including the UK) on April 26. You can purchase tickets via Ticketmaster.
Vanity Fair is also going online with a charity event series to benefit the Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Covid relief efforts. Their Cocktail Hour Live takes place April 13-15, offering a mix of interviews, performances, panel discussions and cast reunions. A-listers confirmed include Serena Williams, Michael B Jordan, Gal Gadot, Glenn Close, and Mank nominee Amanda Seyfried.
Who is eligible for the 2021 Oscars?
The awards honour films released between January 1 2020 and February 28 2021. The Academy’s board of governors voted to temporarily allow films that were first released via streaming services or video on demand to be eligible, if they were originally scheduled to have a theatrical release. That means films which haven’t yet been released in cinemas, due to Covid, are still considered.
Who is nominated at the 2021 Oscars – and who will win?
This year’s list of nominees has already made history. There are two women in the Best Director category: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland and Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, with Zhao hotly tipped to win the award – as is Nomadland for Best Picture. There are also nine actors of colour nominated, including the first Asian-American up for Best Actor, Minari’s Steven Yeun.
We may well see a diverse list of winners, too, with the late Chadwick Boseman favourite to win a posthumous Best Actor Award for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Daniel Kaluuya leading the race for Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah. Adding to a good haul for the Brits, we may well see Ferrell nab a Best Original Screenplay trophy and/or Sacha Baron Cohen take Best Adapted Screenplay for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, following their Writers Guild Awards wins.
Also in the mix are David Fincher’s Mank, which picked up an impressive 10 Oscar nominations; The Father, starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, with six nods; Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7, with six; the Riz Ahmed-starring Sound of Metal, also with six; and Best Actress challenges from Andra Day in The United States vs Billie Holiday, and Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman.
Good news: we’ve got a handy guide waiting for you, so you can get up to speed ahead of the ceremony and pick your own winners at home.
5 facts you didn’t know about the Oscars
The Oscars statue was designed by the art director of MGM, Cedric Gibbons. The awards are cast in solid bronze and are then plated with 24 karat gold. From 1983 to 2015, the statuettes were made from a tin alloy coated in gold before the academy reverted back to the old method back in 2016.
The steps inside the Dolby Theatre, where the award ceremony takes place, are lined with pillars engraved with the names of every Best Picture winner.
The first black person to win an Oscar was Hattie McDaniel, who won Best Supporting Actress in 1940 for her role as Mammy in Gone With The Wind. It took lobbying to get her into the ceremony, as the hotel had a strict ‘no blacks’ policy, which remained in place until 1959. During the ceremony, McDaniel was sat segregated from other actors in the film. In her acceptance speech, she said: ” I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything I may be able to do in the future. I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry.”
Assassinations have led to the Oscars ceremony being postponed on two occasions. In 1981, the event was pushed back by 24 hours following the attempt on President Ronald Reagan’s life, and in 1968, the Oscars were moved from April 8 to April 10 out of respect of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, whose funeral took place on April 9.
You may notice that during the ceremony, there are no gaps in the crowd. This is due to the Oscars hiring seatfillers, who occupy empty seats when stars and guests need to use the loo or go to the bar. According to the AV Club, you can only be hired if you have a relative who works for the Academy or if you work for the accounting firm who count the votes, PricewaterhouseCoopers. However, it is expected that seatfillers will not be used this year due to social distancing measures.