Award Shows Adapt to COVID-19

Amaka Nwokocha, Staff Writer

Through 2020, the world went through a pandemic that devastated the entertainment industry. Last spring, movie releases and film festivals got canceled, albums got pushed back, and filming for countless movies and series was halted. Postponed for a month, then six months, then a year, and more. Within a month, all the most anticipated releases of the year were pushed to 2021 or 2022, leaving the year wide open and empty.

However, the show had to go on, and the few movies that were released in the year were the stars of a strange, quiet, and pretty boring award season. It was pushed back, free of controversy, and there wasn’t much discussion– largely due to the fact that no one had seen the nominated movies because theaters had been closed for over a year. The real show wasn’t about the films, but it was rather about how the different awards shows handled the pandemic protocols in their usually elaborate programs. The shows weren’t exciting, but they did the job.

The Golden Globes took place in both New York and Los Angeles, so that the people on the eastern seaboard didn’t have to take the trip. It also featured plenty of appearances over video calls from winners and nominees. The Grammys was a little more elaborate. It had multiple stages to allow live performances, although some foreign artists (such as BTS, who are based in South Korea) recorded performances ahead of time and sent them in, as they couldn’t make the journey to Los Angeles. The few celebrities who did appear were wearing masks and were distanced in about four different auditoriums, and the winners were announced this way as well.

The Oscars were held in Los Angeles, as was tradition, and the Academy also held a screening at the British Film Institute, to accommodate those in Europe. They also featured plenty of awards and recognition over video calls. The most striking change of the night was the absence of vocal performances, which have become a staple at the Oscars over the past five to ten years. The academy maintained the three-hour ceremony, however, by allowing longer acceptance speeches and longer introductions to the nominated artists and films.

It was a historic year in many ways, including in the fact that Chloe Zhao became the first woman of color to win best director, and her film Nomadland won Best Picture. However, this year in cinema simply wasn’t something to write home about. From the movies themselves to the underwhelming ceremonies and award winners, 2020 and 2021 will become a forgotten year. The only thing to do is to wait until the end of the pandemic and the 2022 awards season.