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Midday Movies: Pandemic Oscars Sees Format Shakeup And Push For Inclusivity

Oscar statuettes are shown in this photo taken in 2021.

Credit: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Above: Oscar statuettes are shown in this photo taken in 2021.

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After a year of pandemic lockdown, the Oscars will go ahead this Sunday - this time with a much different format.

Aired: April 23, 2021 | Transcript

The 93rd Academy Awards are taking place Sunday and the pandemic has forced the ceremony to make some changes, including moving to a later time in the year.

The Golden Globes and British Academy Film Awards have both taken place online this year. Although the Academy will not be having a virtual event, they will be doing things a little different. Moviewallas’ podcaster Yazdi Pithavala and KPBS's Cinema Junkie Beth Accomando joined Midday Edition on Friday to discuss the event, as well as the slate of nominees.

Here are a few of their takeaways:

The slate this year looks to honor a much more inclusive lineup of films and filmmakers.

There is a marked increase in women and people of color being nominated. It’s shocking to point out that Steven Yuen is the first Asian American nominated as Best Actor for "Minari." But looking back on Oscar history, they never bothered to nominate the great Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. And Riz Ahmed ("Sound of Metal") is being touted as the the first Muslim and person of Pakistani descent nominated in an acting category.

This diversity also extends to the directors, including nominees such as Chloe Zhao and first time director Emerald Fennell.

However, it really depends on who wins. If the only white American male, David Fincher, wins for director or Anthony Hopkins wins for Best Actor, then this may just feel like a promotional attempt to appear more diverse, but if we see some of these diverse nominees win then the progress will feel more genuine.

In the field of documentaries, "Time" and "Collective" are both great, but in a year of truly brilliant and innovative films in the genre, some are disappointed that conventional, but emotional films like "My Octopus Teacher" and "The Mole Agent" got nominated over highly original films like "The Truffle Hunters," "Inmate #1" and "Dick Johnson is Dead."

And while there is a considerable diversity of nominees, there is still a fairly conservative slate in terms of artistic innovation.

As is typically the case, many smaller projects have been overlooked. Films like "The Nest," "The Forty Year Old Version," "First Cow," "News of the World," "The Invisible Man" and"Black Bear" deserved better. At the very least, "The White Tiger" got a Best Adapted Screenplay nod.

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