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Movie awards are all about worrying at the right time. And now, less than a week before the Oscars, all eyes are on COVID-19 after a surprise showing at last week’s BAFTAs. The virus was previously not really present on the prize circuit, despite the high expectations of Cannes last year. But now it seems to be picking up at the right time. COVID got at least four nods from the BAFTAs, with Belfast director Kenneth Branagh and star Ciarán Hinds, and The Mitchells vs. the machines producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller all tested positive for the virus in the days following the London show. With the news coming out in the days after the awards – Belfast‘s Jude Hill confirmed Branagh and Hinds’ diagnoses on March 19, while… The Hollywood reporter confirmed Lord and Miller – industry insiders now seem to be scrambling. “People will exercise an abundance of caution,” one said of the pre-Oscars reluctance to give COVID more room to lead the way.
But as odds watchers also know, things can play out differently on the other side of the pond than in Hollywood. London’s current COVID numbers appear to be exponentially worse than those in Los Angeles, which could have given way to the virus’ good BAFTAs. Never mind that the Oscars will have even stricter pandemic protocols than the BAFTAs in effect, requiring not one but two negative tests to enter, per THR† Even though COVID-19 may be moving faster Belfast if the virus wants to win an Oscar right now, it will have to be frontrunner for a season Power of the dog and fellow late challenger CODA also. And unlike the usual Oscars Night disruptions, this surprise isn’t coming for a few days after the ceremony.