The Oscars - Conception, Cause, and Corona

In 1927, a time when the film industry was gaining popularity and acquiring technical prowess like the introduction of new sound technology, Louis B Mayer, head of MGM studios, founded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). The Academy, with the goal of advancing the film industry, conducted the first Academy Award Ceremony in 1929. Since then, the awards are given annually as an international recognition for artistic and technical excellence in the film industry. As assessed by the Academy's voting membership, the winners across various categories are awarded an "Academy Award of Merit", commonly referred as the "Oscar". The Oscar is officially called the statuette and depicts a knight rendered in the Art Deco style. [1]

The Oscar Award, over the years, has set a standard for inspiring the industry to promote excellence and to create better outcomes all around. It has spurred the urge and intuition to innovate, experiment, and raise the bar with every new effort. It has thus found many worthy hands, the hands that strived for excellence to be worthy of the trophy. Eventually, the award has culminated to become the coveted supreme token of recognition for artists and technicians in the film industry around the world.

Many stalwarts in the field of cinema have seized their moment of stardom to announce their perspective on telling issues that concern the film industry and at times even politics. One such stark and oft-cited incident is when Marlon Brando stirred controversy by declining the Best Actor award for his performance in The Godfather. At the 45th Academy Awards on March 27, 1973, Marlon Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather (Marie Louise Cruz), an Apache actress and activist for Native American rights, to announce his decision to register his protest of Hollywood's portrayal of Native Americans.

Oscar Award ceremonies have been conducted every year right from its inception till this year 2020 just like clockwork and did not miss a show, even during the years of World War II. In 2003, just three days after the United States invaded Iraq, the Oscar award function was held. It was trying times and Nicole Kidman, who collected her best actress Oscar, reasoned, “Because art is important, because you believe in what you do and you want to honour that, it is a tradition that needs to be upheld" [2]. It was yet another time that the show had to be conducted in times of tragedy.

But, the Oscar Awards show has never faced a problem like the COVID-19 pandemic. “Without serious medical and scientific breakthroughs, the virus threatens not just the possibility of holding mass gatherings to hand out trophies but the possibility of whether much of popular art and entertainment is even possible to produce”. Amidst such looming impossibilities, even if the Oscars can go on as planned in February 2021, there is still a question if there would be enough movies to justify competition. Movies under filming are left to dwindle abruptly, and the ones that look at the option of getting completed remotely face the problem of hitting the theatres, which do not seem to open any time before the end of this year.

Experts suggest that the Oscars could follow the example of the Golden Globes that have made some minor changes to “allow some films that premiere online or on Video on Demand to be deemed eligible” [2]. Thus, if the worst were to continue and relief delayed, in the words of Captain Spock of Star Trek, we can say, "For everything, there is a first time", and expect to witness a sparsely competed online Oscar Awards ceremony 2021.



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