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AFP
April 26, 2021

‘Nomadland’ seeks big prize Stars to reunite at unique Oscars

AFP
April 26, 2021

Hollywood, United States: It is guaranteed to be an Oscars like no other: broadcast live from a train station, honouring films few saw in movie theaters, and reuniting Hollywood’s A-listers for the first time in more than a year due to Covid-19.

Chloe Zhao, whose drama "Nomadland" about transient Americans roaming the West in vans is tipped to win best picture and in the running for five more Oscars, is among the nominees set to emerge from long isolation on Sunday to take part in Tinseltown’s biggest night.

"We want to see our friends! We have a lot of friends nominated this year, and we’re really excited to see them," Zhao said of the 93rd Academy Awards. But while the nominees enjoy a much-needed catch-up, the usual high-wattage glamour of the stars parading in couture gowns and jewels will be more subdued, with organizers promising only a "teeny-tiny red carpet."

The guest list is strictly limited, with even studio execs forced to watch on television, and most of the Hollywood press corps will be absent -- something stars of a more nervous disposition are likely to welcome.

"I do think there’s going to be some more freedom" for the attending nominees, Variety journalist Marc Malkin told AFP. But with stars reportedly told they can remove their masks while on camera, even as the pandemic rages worldwide, "there’s going to be an awkwardness of ‘how much are we supposed to be excited? Do we hug? Do we not hug?" he added.

"Nomadland," which has swept most of the awards shows in the run-up to the Oscars, enters Sunday as one of the clearest best picture frontrunners in years. Zhao is also tipped to become the second woman, and first of color, to win the golden statuette for best director.

With movie theaters closed all year, and blockbuster content delayed, her film -- like rivals "Minari" and "Sound of Metal" -- captured the pandemic zeitgeist with its stunning portrait of the isolated margins of society.

Contenders like "Promising Young Woman" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7" tapped into themes of #MeToo and anti-racism protest that feel more relevant than ever, but those films are still outsiders for the night’s final prize.