By Nick Nimkoff
For The Diamondback

If you’ve been thinking that the Oscars feel like more of a chore to keep up with than usual this year, you aren’t alone.

Theaters aren’t open, movies cost up to $30 just to rent and most of the films that are making it out leave a lot to be desired.

It started last March ,when AMC announced their national closure. Now, roughly one year later, most of their theaters are up and running, while Regal theaters opened April 2. Things may finally start to return to normal for an industry that was ravaged by the pandemic, putting some companies on the verge of bankruptcy.

But with the traditional medium for watching new releases off the table, people turned to services like Netflix and Disney+ to quench their thirst for content.

I used my time in quarantine to watch Community, catch up on my backlogged watchlist and — of course — watch Tiger King.

What I didn’t do was bother keeping up with the new releases; Tenet, which I watched at a drive-in theater over an hour away, was the only exception.

It just didn’t feel worth it to see anything new this year.

Even when movies hit streaming services, there was a chance you had to pay for them. I still have yet to meet anyone who has paid Disney+’s ridiculous premium access fee of $30 for Mulan or Raya and the Last Dragon.

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Some notable exceptions were made, however, with Christmas providing two major blockbusters on streamers, free of extra charges: Soul on Disney+ and Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max.

This decision to move releases to streaming was not met without its criticism. Aside from further damaging the theater industry, the lack of a big screen definitely hindered certain releases.

If you, like me, felt let down by the new Wonder Woman, you may want to consider how much a big screen adds to your experience.

I can’t shake the feeling that the spectacle of the film was destroyed by the small screen. The film’s flaws started to show a lot quicker sitting on grandma’s couch than they did sitting in front of a towering IMAX screen.

We miss parts of a movie without that huge screen. Sure, nothing is really taken out, but the experience of the theater is still of utmost importance for moviegoing.

Certain films’ need for spectacle is also what stopped certain shoo-ins from competing at this year’s Oscars.

If the pandemic didn’t exist, we might have seen a nominee list that included Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, The Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark and maybe even Dune.

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These movies were all ultimately shelved to wait until theaters were open again so viewers could see Timothée Chalamet and the sand worms on the biggest screen possible.

The multitude of problems facing the industry has made it so much harder to see — or care about — Oscar-nominated films.

The nomination pool is diverse this year, and in a normal year, I’d have seen at least half of the nominees by now. But this year, I’ve only seen two.

With those $30 rentals, a lack of theaters to see movies in and some less-than-enticing picks, we’ve been given less of a reason to keep up than previous years.

Being able to brush off the ceremony this year actually feels like a relief. I don’t have to sit through the painful comedy segments, the egregious Hollywood self-indulgence and the really terrible choices.

This year, cinephiles like me can rest easy knowing Nomadland is the obvious winner. I won’t have to get myself invested like I did with Parasite last year, jumping for joy when it won best picture against safer picks like 1917 and The Irishman that had me worried.

But with none of the movies nominated at quite the same level of hype as those two, this year’s Best Picture winner is all but decided, and nothing of value will be lost not having watched the Academy Awards this year.