The Oscars Recruit Brad Pitt, Zendaya, and More to Co-Present 2021 Telecast

Photo by Mario Sorrenti.

The Academy Awards, slated for April 25th, are trying to stick to some traditions this year despite the lingering pandemic. They’re cutting down on any “Zoomed in” elements, and attendees have been strongly cautioned against wearing hoodies. But as of yet, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had not announced any host. Turns out, in lieu of a singular master of ceremonies, they’re recruiting an all-star “ensemble” cast that will include Brad Pitt, Bong Joon-Ho, and Zendaya.

This year, producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh are trying to imagine the production as a motion picture itself. “In a world filled with award shows, what if an award show was actually a movie?” asks a new promo. That, of course, means they’ve recruited an ensemble of stars that would put the Marvel Cinematic Universe to shame. (Soderbergh, director of the Ocean’s Eleven films, is no stranger to recruiting mega-ensembles.)

The confirmed “stars” of the show so far: Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Director Bong, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger, and Zendaya. More may be announced at a later date; as last year’s acting category winners, Phoenix, Zellweger, Pitt, and Dern will be sticking to the longstanding tradition of coming back to present.

This year’s ceremony will take place at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, the Oscars’ longtime home. But producers have also announced they’ve retained Union Station, an actual train station in Downtown Los Angeles, as a second location—though it’s unclear how that will play out (the two are linked by a 20-minute ride on the Metro). Additional satellite locations will be available in London and Paris for international nominees who are unwilling or unable to travel.

Even during the pandemic, ratings for awards shows have continued to trend down (the ratings for the Grammys hit an all-time low, despite a fresh approach to the ceremony). The Oscars clearly hope to buck the trend. The ceremony does have one thing going for it that hasn’t been true in years past: the audience can already watch most of the major nominated films from home before the telecast.