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The 2019 best supporting actress winner and One Night in Miami director walked the best screenplay trophy through Los Angeles’ Union Station and onto the Oscars stage as the names of the stars and team behind the night’s show played onscreen like the start of a movie, scored by Questlove. The presenters were listed as the starring cast.
“Think of this as a movie set,” King explained to her Hollywood peers when taking the stage. “An Oscars movie with the cast of over 200 nominees.” She also explained the COVID-era safety protocols to viewers at home so that the show could be maskless: “People have been vaxed, tested, re-tested, socially distanced, and we are following all of the rigorous protocols that got us back to work safely.” Similar to a movie set, she said, the stars will appear without masks when the cameras are rolling.
King had also noted the recent Derek Chauvin verdict from the Oscars stage. “It has been quite a year, and we are still smack-dab in the middle of it. And I have to be honest: If things had come differently this past week in Minneapolis, I may have traded in my heels for marching boots.” She then added, “This was indeed a hard year for everyone, but our love of movies helped to get us through.”
And with that, the Oscars began — with the night’s first trophy going to Promising Young Woman‘s Emerald Fennell.
Collins, Sher and Soderbergh had promised a cinematic treat ahead of the live show. When speaking recently with The Hollywood Reporter, they noted that their biggest challenge would be incorporating the remote and fluid list of nominees into the Union Station- and Dolby Theatre-set televised show to fuse with their overall Hollywood vision.
“We want the whole show to feel of a piece and if we are going to pull people in remotely, we want the kind of control over that that you would have if you were making a movie,” said Soderbergh, who worked with epidemiologists from Contagion, which he directed, on the safety protocols. “We’re shooting a three-hour film at Union Station with the prep 90 minutes before and an hourlong debrief afterward, but our whole approach is to treat it like a movie shoot in every particular.”
The reason that the three-hour show will go on without a host was also a deliberate production choice. “It felt like it would be better served if each act was approached as a discrete storytelling chapter, and you have a guide for each of those chapters,” said Soderbergh of adding more to the presenters’ duties, which was on display with the personal and well-researched introductions for the nominees.
The night’s starry list of presenters — and main cast — also includes Riz Ahmed, Angela Bassett, Bong Joon Ho, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Viola Davis, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Steven Yeun, Renée Zellweger and Zendaya.
The producers also wanted to devote more time to speeches. “There’s definitely some things that have typically been in Oscars that are not in this show, but the big difference is the approach,” said Collins. “Because we’re in a new venue, because we’re in this situation, it allows us to blow up structure and do awards in different ways — and to Steven’s point, change the sequencing.”
Simply put, the theme of the night was its tagline: “Bring Your Movie Love.” Summed up Soderbergh of their intent: “That’s an innocent request to show up with an open heart and not to be cynical.”
The 93rd Oscars aired Sunday, April 25, on ABC.
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