How The Oscars Was Able To Do A Maskless Ceremony

Regina King

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony was all about change. Venue changes. Presentation changes. So far, as the show trucks along, we have been impressed by the updates that the Oscars have implemented, and one of the biggest ones is how the Oscars pulled off being a maskless ceremony in a pandemic.

All of the awards ceremonies have been figuring out how to pull off the all-star audiences that viewers have come to expect to see on screen. Earlier telecasts like the Golden Globes had hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey in different cities, and small crowds in reduced-spaced venues with masks on. That’s not good enough for the Oscars, though. Also, we are further along in the vaccine stage of the ongoing pandemic, and Oscar host Regina King walked us through how the Oscars pulled off a maskless ceremony this evening. Watch the video above.

Hollywood, as an industry, has been jumping through hoops figuring out how to get actors, screenwriters, camerapeople, audio technicians, directors and crews back onto movie sets. It has been a rigorous process, but it has worked! Under strict restrictions that are in place to protect all of the people necessary to make a film set hum, movie sets are back up and running.

So the Academy Awards wisely treated the Oscars like one giant film set.

As Regina King explained to those of us who are watching the Oscars from back at home:

Think of this as a movie set. An Oscars movie with a cast of over 200 nominees. People have been vaxxed, tested, re-tested, socially distanced and we are following all of the rigorous protocols that got us back to work safely. So, just like on a movie set, when we’re rolling, masks off. And when we’re not rolling? Masks on. That’s how we do it.

Part of the reason why I love that the Academy went to these lengths to make this ceremony work this way is because I think we’re already going back on this year’s Oscar winners and view it as an abnormal year. The deadline for when movies could qualify was pushed back to accommodate more films. But many studios stayed out of the full race, giving smaller films that might not have had the chance to shine to get into important categories.

But at the same time, while this is an unusual year, I want the people who DID get nominations to get as full of an experience as possible, so it warms my heart to see people like Emerald Fennell and Daniel Kaluuya getting a chance to stand on stage, accept their Oscar, give heartfelt and emotional speeches without having to wear a mask, and feel safe about doing it.

No matter how the rest of the show goes, this was a terrific step right out of the gate for the Oscars in 2021.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.