The 2019 Oscars are already over and Disney has already announced its nominees for the following year, making us wonder what exactly happened during the last month of this year.

The 89th Academy Awards were held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on February 24th following the rule changes implemented at the end of this year. For the first time in history, the Oscars were presented in a live-streamed ceremony, allowing viewers from all over the world to tune in. For those who couldn’t make it to the Theatre in Los Angeles, the Academy has also provided an alternative stream featuring many of the same categories and presenters. Unfortunately, due to the current circumstances, it’s almost impossible to get an accurate handle on the Academy’s decision-making process or to know how audiences around the world reacted to the event. Even Disney, which is responsible for many of the changes implemented at the Oscars this year, hasn’t provided any real detail on its motives.

Before the pandemic, the Oscars usually saw a surge of interest right before and after the ceremony, with searches going up briefly after the event and then declining again. While this year’s Oscars saw an increase in searches leading up to the event, it’s not clear if this is simply due to increased interest in the awards or because people were searching for ways to tell their friends about the event.

The biggest shift implemented at the Oscars this year was the move to present the awards in a live-streamed ceremony, which was first suggested during the 2019 Golden Globes ceremony. This made several categories, including film, musical and comedy, and cinematography contingent upon the use of certain platforms, such as YouTube and Twitch.

Due to the time constraints imposed by the pandemic, the filmmakers behind The Irishman, Joker and Marriage Story were among the many who pushed for a live-streamed presentation, seeing it as a way to give the awards show the “big-budget blockbuster” feel that the studios and cinemas have become accustomed to. The presentation did see several technical glitches, resulting in presenter Marcia Gay Harden dropping the megaphone she was given during the live-stream and instead producing a high-pitched shriek that became somewhat of a running gag. This was eventually addressed by cutting away to a pre-recorded segment featuring several of the same categories and presenters, as well as moving several of the winners’ speeches to the next day.

This year’s film awards saw several firsts, including a tie for first place in the box office and a first-ever female-driven box office champion. While it’s still too early to tell if this was simply a fluke or the start of something more significant, audiences are clearly responding to the diverse collection of films and the presence of a host who isn’t afraid to ask a comedian to stop making jokes about the pandemic.

Is The Box Office Different?

To begin with, the Academy this year presented several awards for excellence in films that were more commercially successful than ever before, including best picture, which went to The Irishman. This was followed by best director for the highly anticipated Joker and then best actress for the third year in a row, for Little Women. These wins helped to boost the overall box office for the year and, in some cases, became the main reason for a film’s success. While it’s still too early to tell if this is a permanent change, it certainly seems that the Academy is becoming less concerned with focusing on the artistic side of making films and more so with the financial success that they can have at the box office.

Will This Trend Continue?

A few weeks ago, it would have been nearly impossible to predict that 2020 would see the start of a new trend, but here we are.

While the 2019 Oscars saw several firsts, including a live-streamed presentation and a tie for first place in box office, it was still a rather conservative awards show. Many of the same categories and presenters returned for another year, with the exception of Oscar winner Jennifer Lopez, who hosted the 2019 show and who is set to host this year’s Grammys. As a result of the pandemic restrictions, the 2020 Oscars also saw a decline in the number of attendees, with only 8.8 million people tuning in, compared to the 11 million who watched the 2019 ceremony. While the Academy hasn’t announced the date for the next awards show, it’s clear that they will be holding another ceremony next year.