The Triumphant Return of My Annual “Countdown to the Oscars” – COVID Edition

The World Theater signDue in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic, this past year was one of the wildest in movie history (and honestly, probably the most bizarre year of my life, period). Theaters closed down (both temporarily and, unfortunately in some cases, permanently), nearly every major film set to debut in 2020 was either delayed until 2021/2022 or released exclusively on streaming platforms, and the entire landscape of cinema was likely changed forever. During the eligibility period for this year’s Oscars (which usually spans one calendar year but this year includes movies released in 2020 all the way up until February 28, 2021), I saw over 100 movies, which is more than I’ve ever seen before in a single Oscars eligibility year. And yet, I only saw two movies physically in a theater (The Invisible Man literally right before the COVID lockdown and Tenet while masked up in my local limited-capacity, socially distanced AMC). Obviously, this past year was incredibly unusual in all facets of life, including movies, but there’s plenty of positive things to be excited about for 2021—I am fully vaccinated (Pfizer for the win!) and movies are rapidly returning to theaters around the country. I cannot wait to be back in front of that giant silver screen all year long.

Despite the unique circumstances from the past year, the current Oscars eligibility period was a wonderful year for movies, and I am extremely pleased to now return for another annual installment of my “Countdown to the Oscars” blog. Over the next two weeks, I cannot wait to share with you my thoughts on the best movies released this past year as we approach the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, which is set to take place live on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at both its traditional home (the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood) and a second location (Los Angeles Union Station) due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (The Academy also announced since it would not permit guests to participate virtually this year, it plans to establish additional physical sites in both London and Paris to ease travel for those based elsewhere around the globe.)

Here’s a recap of the structure of posts you can expect to see on The Reel Countdown the next two weeks: (1) my “Top 10 Films of the Year” (including an “Honorable Mentions” post, which will break down the five films that just missed out on cracking my list this year), (2) my own personal Oscars ballot (i.e., how I would vote if I had a ballot) for some of the year’s major categories, based on this year’s nominees, and (3) a recap of the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, which will highlight the most noteworthy moments from the broadcast.

Let the show begin!