Last year the Oscars had one of the most chaotic seasons ever. Kevin Hart was the host, then Kevin Hart was not the host. There was the announcement of a new “popular film” category, which was quickly cancelled. Then, they announced there would only be two Best Song nominees performing live during the broadcast, only to also change their minds on that decision. The run-up to the 2019 Oscars was full of bad decisions that were swiftly repealed, making for a sloppy, disorganized award season. But the Oscars turned out pretty great. Green Book aside, that was of the better broadcasts in recent years. So, in true Hollywood fashion, future Oscars want to recapture that lightning in a bottle by introducing the chaos early. We haven’t even hit the fall festival circuit yet and we already have changes to the next three Oscars broadcasts, as the Academy will be changing the dates of the 2021 and 2022 ceremonies.
The 2020 Oscars are happening earlier than normal, on February 9th. That is forcing the Grammys to move their show up to January, which in turn changes the eligibility dates for potential Grammy nominees. And though no date has been announced yet, the BAFTAs also intend to move up, to stay ahead of the Oscars. But it will all be temporary! Because in true chaotic Academy style, the Academy has decided the 2021 and 2022 broadcasts will return to the end of February, airing on February 28th and 27th, respectively. That means the Grammys and BAFTAs will be able to return to their usual spots in early February, too.
Why the chaos? Officially, it’s because of other events happening in those years. 2022 will see the next winter Olympics dominating the month until February 20th. The adjusted dates also avoid the President’s Day holiday in the US, a non-federal holiday not everyone observes. I buy that the winter Olympics are a concern, I refuse to believe President’s Day actually matters, unless you’re looking to buy a new mattress or car. It’s undoubtedly a much bigger deal that the Super Bowl falls on the Oscars’ “new” weekend in both 2021 and 2022.
And it is also probably a big deal that the earlier date is messing up award season for everyone. Not only do other professional organizations like the Recording Academy and British Academy of Film and Television have to move their giant, unwieldy broadcasts, but it’s also going to have an impact on the fall release schedule, as distributors strategize when to release their Oscar hopefuls. Often, Oscar hopefuls don’t hit wide release until well into January, but with this earlier date, nominations will be made in early January. It basically moves the whole calendar up a month. I wonder how many complaints have been made about that? I’m guessing a lot, since the Academy is already announcing the next two years’ broadcasts will be back in the late February slot. I have to say, John Bailey’s terms as president of the Academy have been WILD: the chaos of the 2019 broadcast, the broadcast date shuffle, that time he was investigated for sexual harassment. I will not be shocked if Bailey steps down at the end of his term later this year. A potted plant could provide more stability than he has.