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How Contagion Played A Part In The 2021 Oscars

In 2011, Steven Soderbergh, the acclaimed director of not just "Ocean's 11" and "Ocean's 12," but also "Ocean's 13," presented a film that bravely asked, "What would happen if Gwyneth Paltrow ever got sick?" The answer: chaos at an international level. 

The film is "Contagion," a science-backed ensemble drama that presents a bleak, purely rhetorical world hobbled by a global pandemic. A decade later, Soderbergh was tapped to co-produce the 2021 Academy Awards, an unavoidably unusual event taking place during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Safety being of the utmost importance, the filmmaker got the old gang back together for one more job — and this time, it's personal. Personal space, that is. Though Soderbergh is not himself a notable infectious disease preparedness and response expert, he apparently has some friends in high places.

As the old adage goes: "It's not what you know, but who you know." Thanks to his work on "Contagion," Soderbergh has connections in the epidemiological community. That means two things for the 2021 Oscars: an informed approach to safety at the awards ceremony and, presumably, an absolutely lit after party.

Contagion and the Oscars, together at last

According to Rappler, Soderbergh worked closely and "consulted extensively" with the same team of experts that he worked with on "Contagion" in 2011. As a result of the collaboration, as well as a general trend toward viral awareness in the global community at large, the filmmaker boasted about the creation of a whole new kind of OscarsDeadline even quoted his assertion that "There is no universe in which we put anybody at risk."

"We are really lucky that we got to make this film together 10 years ago, 'Contagion,' and got to know some of the leading epidemiologists in the world," co-producer on both the movie and the ceremony Stacey Sher told Deadline. "They have been involved, and advising us. It is a constant evolution. We didn't anticipate where Europe would be at when we began this process. As epidemiologists like to say 'We may be done with COVID, but COVID is not done with us'. But when you get more people vaccinated, and it is amazing that L.A. is open from 16 and up, then we really can move towards this and create a space where new variants can't develop, so it's science for me."

Thanks to Soderbergh's connections, it looks to be science for us all.