Oscars 2021: Movie stars, Hollywood A-listers hit red carpet once again after COVID-19 forced awards shows to go virtual

Golden crocs are the first bold fashion choice to grace the red carpet.
Golden crocs are the first bold fashion choice to grace the red carpet. Photo credit: Getty Images; Twitter - @jokictasha

The red carpet is back. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced awards shows to be canceled or go virtual over the past year, movie stars and Hollywood A-listers returned on Sunday (local time) strutting their stuff, live and in person, on perhaps the most iconic red carpet of all: at the Oscars.

It was a smaller-than-usual affair with fewer celebrities and cameras - and strict COVID-19 protocols in place. But there was no less glamour to grace the carpet set up at Los Angeles' Mission Revival-style Union Station, where the 93rd annual Academy Awards will take place this year.

Wearing a double-breasted black tuxedo, actor Paul Raci, 73, was among the first to step in front of microphones on the carpet.

"I don't think I could have it any other way; it means a lot. It's perfect," said Raci, who has been nominated for best supporting actor for his role in the movie The Sound of Metal.

TV hosts and personalities described a pent-up red carpet energy that could sweep the scene on Sunday with stars and spectators alike eager to put on a show to forget, albeit temporarily, the rigors of 2020.

Minari's star Steven Yeun, one of the nominees for best actor, said it felt "strange" to be out and interacting with people.

"I haven't talked to random people in a while, so this is crazy," said Yeun, 37.

Some of the others on the red carpet aside from the actors and actresses wore masks, and interviewers kept their social distance from their subjects.

Some of the nominees and other celebrities took to social media ahead of the ceremony to share preparations for this year's awards show.

On Instagram, Glenn Close, who is hoping to finally nab an Oscar statuette for her portrayal of tough-love parent Mamaw in Hillbilly Elegy, silently toasted in front of the camera while getting ready for the show

A mask-wearing Laura Dern held what looked like a swab for a COVID-19 test in a shot the actress shared with her Instagram followers and captioned "Oscars prep!"