The Oscars Will Be Earlier Next Year, But the Season Will Be Even Longer

Did the Independent Spirit Awards move to an earlier date because they didn’t want to wait so long for the late-March Oscars?

Gothams Spirit Awards Oscars
Adam Driver at the Gotham Awards, Adam Sandler at the Spirit Awards, Chloe Zhao at the Oscars / Getty Images

The last awards season felt like the longest, weirdest one ever — but the next one won’t be much better.

That’s one takeaway from the Film Independent Spirit Awards’ decision not to stick to the usual date on the day before the Oscars, which this year would have been March 26. Instead, the show is moving up three weeks to March 6.

Film Independent explained the move as a way to “shine an even brighter light” on indie films in the days leading up to Oscar voting, but it’s also a way of saying that next year’s Oscars are just too late in the year — that they didn’t want to wait all the way to the end of March 2022, especially since the films in contention will all have been released by Dec. 31 of 2021.  

(Last year, when the Oscars and the Spirit Awards were both held in late April, the eligibility period had been extended by two months, to the end of February.)

The tricky thing is that in 2021, when the Oscars were so late, the entire calendar moved back to fit the Academy’s schedule: The first major awards show, the Golden Globes, didn’t take place until the end of February, meaning that the Oscars’ move essentially shifted the entire calendar back for two months.

This year, though, the Critics Choice Awards have staked out a Jan. 9 date, which in a normal year would have been when the Globes would take place. (The Globes, you may have heard, are on hold while the Hollywood Foreign Press Association undertakes some reforms.)

So that means the awards season will start in earnest in early January (or late November, if you count the Gotham Awards, which moved back to Nov. 29 from this year’s Jan. 11 date). But it won’t end until the last week of March. And if the past season felt interminable, which it did, the upcoming one might not be much different.  

Here’s the math: In 2021, there were eight weeks between the Golden Globes and the Oscars; in 2022, there will be 11 weeks between the Critics Choice Awards and the Oscars.

In 2021, 15 weeks separated the Gothams and Oscars; in 2022, it will stretch to 17 weeks.

Given that, you can’t blame the Spirit Awards for not wanting to take their usual day-before-the-Oscars slot. And the move won’t hurt their ability to draw a crowd to their ceremony, which for a change will take place in the evening rather than the afternoon. Not coincidentally, March 6 happens to be the day before the Oscar Nominees Luncheon, which means that talent will be in town — and for indie filmmakers who aren’t in the running for Oscars, the Spirit Awards is the biggest game in town and warrants a trip to L.A. whenever it happens.

Other shows, meanwhile, have adjusted to some degree to the extended Oscar schedule: The Directors Guild Awards, for instance, will take place on March 12 of next year, and the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) on March 13.

In other words, if you liked the elongated awards season last year, congratulations: You’re getting another one this year. And if you didn’t like it, sorry about that.


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