When the presenters rip open the climactic envelope at this year’s pandemic-delayed Oscars on Sunday night, the Best Picture winner will be selected from the most overtly political pool of nominees in the ceremony’s history.

Since last year — when the surprise Best Picture win for “Parasite” was seemingly our Last Good Moment before the madness of 2020 — Americans have experienced the Covid-19 pandemic, last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests and the 2020 presidential election and its bloody aftermath in the January 6 riots. Amid all this, Americans have been largely barred from actual theaters, making moviegoing a more contemplative, intimate experience than ever, just as the world we’re contemplating has grown more inescapably political. It would have seemed unthinkable for the Academy to nominate blockbusters like “Black Panther” or “A Star Is Born” for the night’s biggest award, given the pensiveness and tension that have defined the past year.

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