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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Here's everything you need to know about the 2021 Oscars

Oscar statuettes
Oscar statuettes
Photo: Kristian Dowlin (Getty Images)

It’s Moira Rose’s favorite season: awards. But obviously, given how COVID-19 is still a thing, awards ceremonies are very different this time around. This year’s Oscars will be the first under the pandemic and the Academy Awards decided to forego the painful awkwardness of a Zoom ceremony like the one we sat through at the recent Golden Globes. Though an in-person show makes for a better viewing experience, it’s still pretty concerning because we’re still very much in the midst of a pandemic. We’ll have to see how efficient the Oscars ceremony is at making sure celebs can pal around and collect their awards in-person without it being the superspreader event of the season. But there’s still plenty to look forward to, with some of the year’s best films being up for Best Picture, including Nomadland, Minari, and Judas And The Black Messiah.


When is it?

The Oscars will air live on ABC on April 25 at 8 p.m. ET. You can also live stream it through YouTube TV and Hulu if you have their live TV subscription. And if you don’t, there’s nothing to be worried about—we’ll share free streaming links the day it airs, too.

If you’re down to make a whole day out of the awards, there will be an official pre-show hosted by Hamilton and The Prom’s Ariana DeBose and comedian Lil Rel Howery kicking off at 6:30 p.m. ET. Titled Oscars: Into The Spotlight, producers say the special will “highlight the nominees’ journey to Hollywood’s biggest night, give fans around the world the ultimate insiders’ sneak peek to the party and, for the first time, bring Oscar music to the festivities” with Celeste, H.E.R., Leslie Odom Jr., Laura Pausini, Daniel Pemberton, Molly Sandén and Diane Warren performing the five nominated original songs in their entirety.

And after the ceremony, Fear The Walking Dead and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom star Colman Domingo and The Prom’s Andrew Rannells will host Oscars: After Dark, which is way more PG than it sounds. The special will feature interviews by film critic Elvis Mitchell, recap the evening’s “must-see moments,” and showcase Oscar winners “as they have their statuettes personalized.”

Who’s hosting the ceremony?

Nobody! As Deadline reported in March, this ceremony will continue the recent tradition of not having a host, which is probably for the best. Instead, the show will focus on having numerous all-star presenters throughout the night.

Who’s presenting?

This year will feature tons of exciting names, including Angela Bassett, Laura Dern, Halle Berry, Bong Joon Ho (whose film Parasite won Best Picture last year), Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, and Zendaya. On April 22, Viola Davis and Riz Ahmed were added to the list of presenters. On April 23, Steven Yeun was added to the roster.

What will it look like?

The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences saw how awkward the Golden Globes were and basically said “Oh hell no, we’re not doing that.” But really, they even sent a letter to nominees that read, “For those of you unable to attend because of scheduling or continued uneasiness about traveling, we want you to know there will not be an option to Zoom in for the show” and described the dress code as “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.” Nominees who live in Europe basically said “Fuck this,” so The Academy begrudgingly decided to include event spaces in Europe, so those who don’t live in the U.S. can accept their awards.

Where is it?

Okay, so here’s where things will get very different. The performances will be filmed at The Dolby Theatre, where the Oscars have been held since 2002. But the main ceremony will be at Union Station—yes, as in the train station. It’s a bit of an odd choice but it’s huge and people have celebrated weddings and other festivities there, so it’s not as strange as it sounds. But with the combination of The Dolby Theatre, Union Station, and the Europe and U.K. ceremony spots, it’ll be interesting to see how the show seamlessly films all the spaces throughout the Oscars.


Who’s nominated?

You can take a look at our list of nominees.

Anything else?

Read our list of Oscar snubs and surprises here.

Update, 4/23:

Watch along with The A.V. Club

On Oscars night, The A.V. Club staff will be doing a live blog of the ceremony. We’ll also track the winners and capture all of the night’s most memorable moments in the Newswire and over on Twitter.

Join us on Sunday!