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A Way-Too-Early Guide to the Wild, Abbreviated 2020 Oscar Season

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

Last August, the Academy’s Twitter account announced three forthcoming changes to the Oscars ceremony. (1) There would be a brand-new category called Best Popular Film. (2) To keep the show from running over, certain categories would be presented during commercial breaks.

New York, NY - May 29, 2019: Shailene Woodley, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman attend HBO Big Little Lies Season 2 Premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center

And (3) the 2020 ceremony would air on February 9, about three weeks earlier than usual. You remember what happened to the first two — months of public outcry that culminated in a shamed Academy sadly placing each failed innovation back into the desk drawer from which it came.

“It’s going to be tough,” says one awards strategist. “The schedule’s just a lot more grueling.”

How will the abbreviated season affect this year’s race? As with all Oscar predictions, it’s hard to tell for sure until we get there, but from talking to a handful of awards insiders, I’ve tried to get a sense of how this particular hurdle will affect 2019’s contenders. The primary takeaway?

“I think we’ll find out quicker whether something’s a contender or not,” says another insider. One key date to watch is the Governors Awards, when the industry reconvenes in Los Angeles to honor the living legends who will be receiving honorary Oscars. This is when much of the behind-the-scenes talent wrangling occurs — roundtables, big magazine interviews, voter meet and greets — and this year they’re happening in late October. That’s eight weeks away. If you’re not on the board by then, beware.

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