Oscars in Covid chaos! Stars panic as they await PCR results

The 2022 Academy Award attendees have been left fearing they’ll miss the ceremony as they nervously await the results of two mandatory PCR tests ahead of Sunday’s ceremony.

In order to attend the awards show – which is returning to Dolby Theatre after last year’s watered-down ceremony at Union station – attendees must test negative for Covid. 

Stars are said to have dubbed the panic surrounding the results as ‘swab sweat’, while Best Director nominee Kenneth Branagh also faces missing the ceremony as he continues to isolate after contracting the virus last week. 

If he continues to test positive for Covid he will be forced to miss the prestigious pre-Oscars Governors Ball on Friday evening and the main event on Sunday. 

Swab sweat: The 2022 Academy Award attendees have been left fearing they'll miss the ceremony as they nervously await the results of two mandatory PCR tests ahead of Sunday’s ceremony (pictured Best Actress nominee Kristen Stewart)

Swab sweat: In order to attend the awards show - which is returning to Dolby Theatre after last year's watered-down ceremony at Union station - attendees must test negative for Covid (pictured Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain)

Swab sweat: The 2022 Academy Award attendees have been left fearing they’ll miss the ceremony as they nervously await the results of two mandatory PCR tests ahead of Sunday’s ceremony (pictured Best Actress nominees Kristen Stewart and Jessica Chastain) 

Kenneth’s spokesperson told MailOnline that there is ‘still no definitive news’ on whether he will be able to make the ceremony. 

All guests at this year’s Oscars will be asked to submit negative Covid tests and proof of vaccination. Presenters and performers will not have to be vaccinated but will have to show they have recently tested negative for the virus. 

An insider from Hollywood power brokers United Talent Agency told The Sun: ‘Everyone is dealing with swab sweat. You get your nose swabbed and then you are sweating on whether the email will land showing you are positive. It is a really anxious time for major stars and nominees especially, knowing this may be their only chance of glory. 

‘The socialising at events all week is obviously a major part of the celebrations, but there is a fear that anyone could innocently pick up Covid simply by mixing with an infected person.’ 

Missing out? Stars are said to have dubbed the panic surrounding the results as 'swab sweat', while Best Director nominee Kenneth Branagh also faces missing the ceremony as he continues to isolate after contracting the virus last week (pictured at the BAFTAs on March 13)

Missing out? Stars are said to have dubbed the panic surrounding the results as ‘swab sweat’, while Best Director nominee Kenneth Branagh also faces missing the ceremony as he continues to isolate after contracting the virus last week (pictured at the BAFTAs on March 13) 

The precautions come following concerns that the BAFTAs ceremony on March 13 was a ‘super-spreader’ event, with several attendees coming down with the virus in the days that followed. 

One source, who tested positive for Covid just days after attending the Baftas, told The Hollywood Reporter: ‘It seems the weekend may have been a super-spreader event.’

Another claimed: ‘Literally everyone I’m speaking to at the moment says they have it.’

Such is the concern that the Oscars will follow the same path, that all events across Los Angeles, including private house parties held by A-listers, are requiring attendees do an antigen test on arrival.  

As celebrities face an anxious wait to see if they can attend the ceremony, preparations were well underway outside the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday. 

A team of workers were seen rolling out the huge red carpet onto Hollywood Boulevard, ready for the hundreds of A-listers who will be posing in their designer gowns outside the famed theatre.

This year’s ceremony marks a return to the Dolby Theatre, home to the Oscars since it opened in 2001. Last year the global pandemic meant the watered-down ceremony was held at a Union station in Downtown LA with just 170 guests. 

Roll out the red carpet! Preparations well underway outside the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday as the Academy Awards returned home to Hollywood

Roll out the red carpet! Preparations well underway outside the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday as the Academy Awards returned home to Hollywood

A year on from the panned pandemic ceremony, the Oscars are back to their full-scale best with workers also seen moving huge sculptures and hanging golden drapes outside the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday. 

For the first time in three years the awards will have a host with Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes taking the stage for the 8pm ET ceremony. Producer Will Packer said each woman brings something different to the show. 

Show producers will continue adding names throughout the week, but at the moment stars expected to hand out awards Oscar night include Bill Murray, Lady Gaga, Kevin Costner, Samuel L. Jackson, Zoë Kravitz, Anthony Hopkins, Lily James, Daniel Kaluuya, Mila Kunis, John Leguizamo, Simu Liu, Rami Malek, Lupita Nyong´o and Rosie Perez. 

On Wednesday the Academy squashed one pre-show controversy by confirming that West Side Story lead Rachel Zegler will be a presenter, a reversal that came after several days of uproar when the actor noted on social media she didn’t have an Oscar invite despite her movie earning seven nominations including Best Picture.

Returning home: A team of workers have been seen making preparations at the Hollywood Boulevard theatre ahead of Sunday evening's ceremony

Returning home: A team of workers have been seen making preparations at the Hollywood Boulevard theatre ahead of Sunday evening’s ceremony 

It's back: This year's ceremony marks a return to the Dolby Theatre, home to the Oscars since it opened in 2001. Last year though the global pandemic meant the watered-down ceremony was held at a Union station in Downtown LA

It’s back: This year’s ceremony marks a return to the Dolby Theatre, home to the Oscars since it opened in 2001. Last year though the global pandemic meant the watered-down ceremony was held at a Union station in Downtown LA

Competing against West Side Story in the night’s biggest category of Best Picture are Belfast; CODA; Don´t Look Up; Drive My Car; Dune; King Richard; Licorice Pizza; Nightmare Alley and The Power of the Dog.

The Power of the Dog is the presumed frontrunner for Best Picture and Best Director, for Jane Campion, but there is also the possibility that CODA will take the big prize, especially after it won at the Producer’s Guild Awards. Either way, it´ll be the first time a streaming service has won best picture. 

Organisers have promised that they will keep the broadcast to three hours. 

Home: The Dolby Theatre has played host to the Academy Awards since it opened in 2001 - pictured the 2016 ceremony hosted by Chris Rock

Home: The Dolby Theatre has played host to the Academy Awards since it opened in 2001 – pictured the 2016 ceremony hosted by Chris Rock

Watered down: In contrast last year's ceremony took place at a LA train station with just 170 guests (mainly comprised of nominees) to abide by strict pandemic protocols

Watered down: In contrast last year’s ceremony took place at a LA train station with just 170 guests (mainly comprised of nominees) to abide by strict pandemic protocols 

After the 2021 ceremony was criticised for being a ‘three hour woke fest’, producer Will Packer (whose films include crowd pleasers like Girls Trip) has promised the 2022 ceremony will be as entertaining as possible while still honoring the nominees and winners.

‘The show will flow, not unlike a movie, in that there will be different themes and a different feel and different energy throughout the night,’ Packer said in an interview with IndieWire.

‘It will not feel or look or sound like one show for three hours. It´s taking you through the course of this cinematic journey.’

There has already been some criticism surrounding the decision to present some of the 23 awards before the live broadcast begins and edit them into the show later.

Ready for the stars: The huge red carpet took a team of workers to roll out as organisers captured the big moment on camera

Ready for the stars: The huge red carpet took a team of workers to roll out as organisers captured the big moment on camera

Hard at work: A year on from the panned pandemic ceremony, the Oscars are back to their full-scale best with workers also seen moving huge sculptures and hanging golden drapes outside the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday

Hard at work: A year on from the panned pandemic ceremony, the Oscars are back to their full-scale best with workers also seen moving huge sculptures and hanging golden drapes outside the Dolby Theatre on Wednesday

Prep: 'Oscars' letters were seen parked on the stars of the famous Hollywood Boulevard as the red carpet arrivals area took shape outside the theatre

Prep: ‘Oscars’ letters were seen parked on the stars of the famous Hollywood Boulevard as the red carpet arrivals area took shape outside the theatre

The eight categories are Best Documentary Short, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup/Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Animated Short, Best Live-Action Short and Best Sound. 

These eight categories will instead be handed out at the Dolby Theatre one hour before the live telecast, and then be edited into the live broadcast, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

This isn’t the first time the Academy has toyed with removing some of its categories from the telecast.

The Academy announced in August 2018 that they would not broadcast some of the winners live, but the news was met with such immediate backlash it was quickly abandoned.

The main man: Head carpenter Gregg Strouth steadied a decorative panel showing the famous Oscar statuette

The main man: Head carpenter Gregg Strouth steadied a decorative panel showing the famous Oscar statuette 

It's back: After the 2021 ceremony was criticised for being a 'three hour woke fest', producer Will Packer (whose films include crowd pleasers like Girls Trip) has promised the 2022 ceremony will be as entertaining as possible

It’s back: After the 2021 ceremony was criticised for being a ‘three hour woke fest’, producer Will Packer (whose films include crowd pleasers like Girls Trip) has promised the 2022 ceremony will be as entertaining as possible

Entertaining: 'The show will flow, not unlike a movie, in that there will be different themes and a different feel and different energy throughout the night,' Packer said in an interview with IndieWire

Entertaining: ‘The show will flow, not unlike a movie, in that there will be different themes and a different feel and different energy throughout the night,’ Packer said in an interview with IndieWire

Both the canceled move in 2018 and this new shift in the broadcast was approved by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences leadership in the Awards Committee.

A letter sent to Academy members from Academy President David Rubin clarified, ‘They will not be presented in the pre-show nor on the red carpet, as some have speculated. Instead, the in-person ceremony at the Dolby Theatre will begin one hour earlier to present eight awards categories before the live telecast starts.’

‘Those presentations will then be edited by our creative and production teams and will be folded seamlessly into the live televised show,’ the letter added.

The letter reiterated that, ‘all the nominees in ALL awards categories will be identified on air and ALL winners’ acceptance speeches will be featured on the live broadcast.’

Construction team:  Pablo Cruz Moreno, Estuardo Marroquin, Ken Marroquin and Rudolfo Morales are seen rolling out the vast red carpet onto the sidewalk

Construction team:  Pablo Cruz Moreno, Estuardo Marroquin, Ken Marroquin and Rudolfo Morales are seen rolling out the vast red carpet onto the sidewalk 

‘Every awarded filmmaker and artist in every category will still have the celebratory ‘Oscar moment’ they deserve on the stage of the Dolby, facing an enrapt audience,’ the letter added.

The letter also claimed that, for the viewing audience at home, the show will, ‘become tighter and more electric with this new cadence, and the live broadcast should end – yes, with the Best Picture category – at the three-hour mark.’

Rubin added the Academy’s goal is, ‘to find a balance in which nominees, winners, members, and viewing audience all have a rewarding show experience.’  

The news didn’t sit well with many fans on Twitter, with many fans bashing The Academy for not focusing on the actual movies they’re rewarding.

Ready for the celebs: Competing against West Side Story in the night's biggest category of Best Picture are Belfast; CODA; Don´t Look Up; Drive My Car; Dune; King Richard; Licorice Pizza; Nightmare Alley and The Power of the Dog

Ready for the celebs: Competing against West Side Story in the night’s biggest category of Best Picture are Belfast; CODA; Don´t Look Up; Drive My Car; Dune; King Richard; Licorice Pizza; Nightmare Alley and The Power of the Dog 

Major event: The Oscars have once again taken over the street outside the Dolby Theatre after a year away

Major event: The Oscars have once again taken over the street outside the Dolby Theatre after a year away 

‘Amazing to me that @TheAcademy has such contempt for filmmakers who aren’t actors or directors,’ said Overhated podcast host Scott Weinberg.

@DRMovieNews1 added, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if the Oscars cut out the hour of lame comedy sketches and musical performances and instead celebrated every single winner of AN ACADEMY AWARD equally and included more yearly film celebration/reels/tributes? … and they wonder why their ratings are terrible.’

New York Times writer Kyle Buchanan shared an excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter piece about keeping the show at three hours, adding, ‘The Oscars’ obsessive pursuit of the 3-hour mark has never once made the show better.’ 

The ceremony changes come after the 93rd Academy Awards sunk to a new low with just 10.4 million viewers tuning in.

Already attracting controversy: There has been some criticism surrounding the decision to present some of the 23 awards before the live broadcast begins and edit them into the show later

Already attracting controversy: There has been some criticism surrounding the decision to present some of the 23 awards before the live broadcast begins and edit them into the show later

That represented a 56% drop from the ratings in February 2020, when 23.6 million viewers tuned in, which was then also an all-time low. 

The other big talking point is how or whether to address Russia’s assault on Ukraine during the ceremony. 

‘It’s all about the manner in which it’s addressed,’ said Scott Feinberg, awards columnist for The Hollywood Reporter. ‘If it looks like it’s just pandering or lecturing, that’s not going to go over well. But if it’s heartfelt and meaningful, then I think it will have a different result.’

On Hollywood’s awards season circuit, references to the Ukraine crisis have been a constant theme since the invasion began, from expressions of solidarity with the nation’s people to expletive-laden tirades against Vladimir Putin.

Criticism: Eight categories will instead be handed out at the Dolby Theatre one hour before the live telecast, and then be edited into the live broadcast, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Criticism: Eight categories will instead be handed out at the Dolby Theatre one hour before the live telecast, and then be edited into the live broadcast, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Busy: Crew members and show organisers were seen doing a walk through of the site on Wednesday

Busy: Crew members and show organisers were seen doing a walk through of the site on Wednesday 

‘We stand with the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war, both Ukrainians and other ethnicities and nationalities who are being denied safe harbor,’ Oscar nominee Kristen Stewart said at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Host Amy Schumer said she had pitched the idea of inviting Ukraine’s President Zelensky to ‘satellite in, or make a tape or something, just because there are so many eyes on the Oscars.’

While the Academy has not commented, the idea appears to have been nixed, and Schumer conceded that ‘there is definitely pressure in one way to be like, ‘This is a vacation, let people forget — we just want to have this night.”

For Feinberg, ‘it seems like they realize that that’s tone deaf.’

Hoping for a comeback: The number of people who tuned in to watch the 93rd Academy Awards was at an all-time low of 9.85 million viewers. It was a 58 percent drop compared to 2020's already record-low 23.64 million viewers

Hoping for a comeback: The number of people who tuned in to watch the 93rd Academy Awards was at an all-time low of 9.85 million viewers. It was a 58 percent drop compared to 2020’s already record-low 23.64 million viewers 

‘I mean, he’s dealing with life and death matters here. And yes, he’s a former actor, but it just seems that could have really blown up in their faces,’ he told AFP.

Organizers are ‘thinking hard at the show about how to address it without making their show highly political or divisive,’ he added.

While the Oscar producers may not end up addressing the issue at all, the night’s winners are likely to do so anyway.

‘If I were a betting man, I’d say almost every speech will mention Ukraine and the atrocities that are going on there,’ said Variety film awards editor Clayton Davis. 

All star cast: For the first time in three years the awards will have a host with Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes taking the stage for the 8pm ET ceremony

All star cast: For the first time in three years the awards will have a host with Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes taking the stage for the 8pm ET ceremony

It comes as Sir Kenneth Branagh is isolating in New York after testing positive for Covid-19 last week and risks missing The Academy Awards in LA this Sunday.

The 61-year-old director of the Oscar-nominated film Belfast is one of Britain’s best hope for scooping gongs at the glitzy ceremony, with the movie given nods in a whopping seven categories.

A spokesperson for the star said that he had first tested positive ‘early last week’ and he missed the Producers Guild Awards (PGA) event last Saturday and participated virtually instead.

Struggle: It comes as Best Director nominee Sir Kenneth Branagh and Best Supporting Actor hopeful Ciaran Hinds risk missing the ceremony as they isolate in New York after testing positive for Covid-19 last week

Unwell: Ciarán Hinds (pictured), nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Belfast, also tested positive last week. Both are due to attend the Oscars but are currently isolating in New York

Struggle: It comes as Best Director nominee Sir Kenneth Branagh and Best Supporting Actor hopeful Ciaran Hinds risk missing the ceremony as they isolate in New York after testing positive for Covid-19 last week

Ciarán Hinds, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Belfast, also tested positive last week. Both are due to attend the Oscars but are currently isolating in New York.  

Jude Hill, who won best young actor at the Critics Choice Awards for his role in the film, revealed at the weekend that the pair had both tested positive.

The youngster, who stars as Buddy in Belfast, revealed at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday: ‘We have the Focus Features teams, and I’m sitting at that table, and the rest of the cast couldn’t be here because, sadly, Ciaran and Ken have Covid-19. But they’ll be here in spirit.’ 

Plot: Belfast is based on Sir Kenneth's childhood in Belfast during the Troubles in the late 1960s (Jamie, Caitriona Balfe, Jude Hill and Lewis McAskie are pictured in the film)

Plot: Belfast is based on Sir Kenneth’s childhood in Belfast during the Troubles in the late 1960s (Jamie, Caitriona Balfe, Jude Hill and Lewis McAskie are pictured in the film)

On March 13, Branagh attended the BAFTA ceremony in London before flying back to New York on March 15 and shortly after tested positive. 

He did attend the National Board of Review Annual Awards Gala on March 15.  

A spokesman for Kenneth said: ‘Early last week, after arriving in the States, Kenneth Branagh and Ciaran Hinds tested positive for Covid.

‘Both will be observing an isolation period and hopefully will be able to continue their engagements for the film Belfast once that is over, they test negative and, of course, are feeling well enough.’ 

OSCARS 2022: NOMINATIONS

 BEST PICTURE 

Belfast (Focus Features)

Coda (Apple)

Don’t Look Up (Netflix)

Drive My Car (Janus Films/Sideshow)

Dune (Warner Bros)

King Richard (Warner Bros)

Licorice Pizza (MGM/United Artists Releasing)

Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures)

The Power Of The Dog (Netflix)

West Side Story  (20th Century Studios)

On the saddle: Power Of The Dog received several nominations including Best Picture

On the saddle: Power Of The Dog received several nominations including Best Picture

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE 

Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter 

Ariana DeBose – West Side Story 

Judi Dench – Belfast 

Kirsten Dunst- The Power Of The Dog

Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard 

  

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE 

Ciaran Hinds – Belfast 

Troy Kotsur – Coda 

Jesse Plemons – The Power Of The Dog

J.K Simonns – Being The Ricardos 

Kodi Smitt-McPhee – The Power Of The Dog

COSTUME DESIGN 

Cruella 

Cyrano 

Dune 

Nightmare Alley 

West Side Story   

Jumping for joy: West Side Story was nominated for Best Costume Design

Jumping for joy: West Side Story was nominated for Best Costume Design

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND 

Belfast 

Dune 

No Time To Die 

The Power Of The Dog 

West Side Story 

 

ORIGINAL SCORE

Don’t Look Up 

Dune 

Encanto 

Parallel Mothers 

The Power Of The Dog 

 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Coda 

Drive My Car 

Dune 

The Lost Daughter 

The Power Of The Dog 

Loud and clear: Coda was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay

Loud and clear: Coda was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay

 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Belfast 

Don’t Look Up 

King Richard 

Licorice Pizza 

The Worst Person In The World   

 

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Affairs Of The Heart 

Bestia 

Box Ballet 

Robin Robin 

The Windshield Wiper 

 

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM 

Ala Kachuu — Take and Run

The Dress

The Long Goodbye

On My Mind

Please Hold

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM 

Drive My Car

Flee

The Hand of God

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

The Worst Person in the World

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story 

 

 ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE 

Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos

Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog

Andrew Garfield – tick, tick… BOOM!

Will Smith – King Richard

Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Ace? Will Smith is nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for King Richard

Ace? Will Smith is nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for King Richard

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter

Penélope Cruz – Parallel Mothers

Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart – Spencer

 

DIRECTING 

Kenneth Branagh – Belfast

Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza

Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car

Steven Spielberg – West Side Story  

At the helm: Jane Campion is nominated in the Best Director category for Power Of The Dog

At the helm: Jane Campion is nominated in the Best Director category for Power Of The Dog

 

FILM EDITING 

Don’t Look Up 

Dune 

King Richard 

The Power Of The Dog 

tick, tick…BOOM!

 

MAKEUP AND HAIR STYLING

Coming 2 America 

Cruella 

Dune 

The Eyes Of Tammy Faye 

House Of Gucci

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM 

Encanto 

Flee 

Luca 

The Mitchells VS The Machine 

Raya And The Lost Dragon 

 

ORIGINAL SONG

Be Alive — Beyoncé Knowles-Carter & Darius Scott (King Richard)

Dos Oruguitas — Lin-Manuel Miranda (Encanto)

Down to Joy — Van Morrison (Belfast)

No Time to Die — Billie Eilish & Finneas O’Connell (No Time to Die)

Somehow You Do— Diane Warren (Four Good Days)

  

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Audible

Lead Me Home

The Queen of Basketball

Three Songs for Benazir

When We Were Bullies

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Ascension

Attica

Flee

Summer of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Writing with Fire

 

VISUAL EFFECTS 

Dune 

Free Guy 

No Time To Die 

 Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings

Spider-Man: No Way Home 

Stunning: Dune earned nods in both the Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography categories

Stunning: Dune earned nods in both the Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography categories 

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY 

Dune 

Nightmare Alley 

The Power Of The Dog 

Tragedy Of Macbeth 

West Side Story 

 

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