Here goes! The 2021 Oscars have come and gone, and weeks of analysis, predictions, and coverage paid off. I’ll start by saying I loved seeing Misha Collins at the “Sound of Metal” table and before I could express my excitement, I realized, unsurprisingly, Twitter beat me to it.
But while much of the night worked out as expected—including “Nomadland’s” big victory—there was a lot that went in a different direction, both great and weird. Let’s breakdown just a couple of those moments.
Love: Chloé Zhao Winning Best Director
This was expected. More than expected. Almost guaranteed. But nevertheless, when it happened it marked a huge moment in Oscars history. Zhao became the first woman of color and only the second woman ever to win Best Director. Long overdue, but certainly deserved. We couldn’t help but loving this moment.
Cringe: The Ending
If you were watching, I’m sure you were a little taken aback by how abrupt that ending was. The New York Times called it the “Game of Thrones” of endings. You may remember the spectacle of the “La-La-Land” and “Moonlight” debacle. It’s safe to say this was … the opposite?
The first strange part was that Best Picture was announced before Best Actress and Best Actor. Many on the internet speculated that was because they were trying to finish with Best Actor. With all the predictions soundly on Chadwick Boseman winning that award, it would’ve been a touching tribute to send off the night. However, Anthony Hopkins—in a huge upset—took the award instead (his performance was also spectacular). Except that Hopkins wasn’t there and so there was no speech.
So, the 2021 Oscars just kind of … ended. It was abrupt and jarring and we are still reeling from that strange way to wrap up.
Gasp: Best Actress and Best Actor
Maybe we weren’t actually gasping at Best Actress. We have reported multiple times that Best Actress could really go any which way, and so while it’s not surprising Frances McDormand won exactly, it wasn’t expected. Since nobody was “expected” for that one.
But Anthony Hopkins’ win was very much a shock. Some people were starting to see it coming as “The Father” gained traction at the BAFTAs. This just underscores how important late award shows are in Oscar winners. Oscar ballots are cast only days before the ceremony, so recent events play a huge role.
Love: Yuh-Jung Youn’s Speech
It was touching enough that she became the first Korean woman to win Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars. Ever. But her speech was also such a delight. Displaying humor and humility, she joked, “I’m luckier than you” while trying to justify how she could win in such a talented field. We watched “Minari,” so we know it’s really just because she’s a brilliant actress.
Cringe or Love? Dealer’s Choice: Lack of Much Comedy
This one could really go either way; I haven’t decided whether this worked or not. Usually, the Oscars would include a host—usually a comedian—who would perform a skit or a kind of stand-up performance. The show would also be littered with little bits and sketches from other celebrities as well. The 2021 Oscars, while containing a bit of that, chose to largely forego comedy and focus on a more sincere show.
The sincerity was kind of nice. It was interesting to hear the origin stories of many of the nominees, which the presenters took the time to read. It focused on the art and the artists and felt less like a spectacle designed for ratings. Sure, it is a spectacle designed for ratings, but also, they do give out awards, so it’s nice to focus less on the winners and more on all the nominees.
However, it also made the room feel stuffier than usual. It’s hard, looking at the room, to forget that many of these people are incredibly famous, powerful, and wealthy. Without comedy undercutting the arrogance (a little, it’s impossible to rid completely), it really starts to feel overly self-indulgent. I understand the entire nature of award shows is self-indulgent, but it helps to at least pretend.
Finally, I know it’s been said before but the Oscars need to be better at honoring comedy films as well. I mean, “Palm Springs” did come out in 2020 …
So that’s it! The 93rd Academy Awards have finally come to end. We will likely have more to say on the ceremony, but this largely wraps up our award show coverage for this year.
We hope, more than anything, that beyond the awards and winners and celebrities, we can appreciate the brilliant films that were honored on Sunday. In a tough year, the art that these creators made was exceptional, and that’s really the whole point of all this, right?