Why Stephen King Feels It Was A ‘Very Difficult’ Year To Vote For The Oscars

Stephen King cameo in Rose Red

When it comes to his dealings in the film world, Stephen King doesn't just frequently watch movies, write screenplays, and pen books that frequently get adapted; he is also has a voice in choosing the recipients of the industry's highest honors. He is a member of the writing branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which means that every year he has the opportunity to cast a ballot for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. In this respect, King has fulfilled his duties this year, having made his picks for 2021 – but according to the author, it was a "very difficult" process because of what happened to the theatrical experience this past year.

Stephen King announced via Twitter this afternoon that he has fulfilled his duties as a member of the Academy by voting on this year's groups of nominees, but in his message he wrote how the process this year wasn't like most years due to the fact that movies had such limited theatrical releases in 2020 and the early months of 2021. King wrote,

I think it's fair to say that Stephen King speaks for cinephiles around the globe with that last sentiment. While it's true that modern technology has given us a remarkable number of ways to consume media nowadays, watching a movie in a theater is a special thing. More than just being the opportunity to watch a film on a massive screen with top notch audio, it's also a communal experience that you take part in along with everyone else around you. It's something that is impossible to recreate a home, and it's also just not quite the same when locations are operating at limited capacity.

And while speaking about Stephen King specifically, it's been particularly tough not having the chance to watch horror films in theaters (which, of course, is not to say King exclusively deals in the genre). There is something ineffable about sitting in a crowded room watching a great scary movie, as the tension generated becomes a palpable part of the atmosphere and heightens everything. It's a magical thing when you can feel the whole room jump back three feet when the serial killer slinks from the shadows or a monster leaps at the hero.

Stephen King hasn't been totally without the theatrical experience all year, as he posted on Twitter last October that he went out for a night at the movies with a relative – but he wasn't exactly thrilled by what he saw. He witnessed an industry in really bad shape, and lamented seeing something he loves hurting so badly. He wrote:

Fortunately, things are starting to turn around in the theater industry, as vaccine rollouts have started everyday life on a path towards normalcy. Things aren't running at full steam quite yet, but the numbers being put up by Godzilla vs. Kong are a great sign, and there is very real hope that we will get to have a traditional summer blockbuster season in the coming months.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, we still haven't totally wrapped up awards season, which brings us back to the subject of the Academy Awards and Stephen King casting his ballot. The Oscars are now just one week away, and the competition in the categories in which King voted is fierce – with amazing movies like Florian Zeller's The Father, Shaka King's Judas and the Black Messiah, Lee Isaac Chung Minari, Chloe Zhao's Nomadland, Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman, Darius Marder's Sound of Metal, and Aaron Sorkin's The Trial of the Chicago 7 all nominated for both writing prizes and Best Picture.

We'll be providing you with in depth coverage of the Award Show as it airs, so be sure to be on the site and constantly refreshing when the Oscars start airing on Sunday April 25 at 5pm PST/8pm EST.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.