The 2021 Oscars have concluded, finally closing the book on one of the worst years in film ever. It was a very non-traditional awards ceremony, eschewing all of the pomp and circumstance in favor of a smaller and more intimate affair. Still, even without the hours of self-adulation, there was still a fair bit of stories that came out from last night that are worth discussing and examining. If you just want to see who the winners are, take a look at our post of the event from last night. If not, then let’s not waste any time and just dive into the biggest stories from the 2021 Oscars, shall we?
What Even Was That Ending?
The 2017 Oscars will go down in history as having one of the biggest blunders in any awards show history. To be fair to the presenters, they were handed an incorrect winner envelope and were put in an awful position, but that failure can be regarded as an honest to God accident. A major accident nonetheless, but still an accident. Last night’s error was an entirely different beast. It was the perfect example of the Academy having egg on their face of their own creation and there’s no real way for them to save face. It might not be on that same scale, but the 2021 Oscars certainly gave 2017 a run for their money.
So what happened? Well, as you may recall, Chadwick Boseman died at the age of 43 and his final performance as Levee Green in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was the favorite to win. And since Boseman was the face of one of the biggest cultural touchstones of a generation amongst a group that has been shunned by the Academy numerous times for years, this was their time to regain some goodwill. So they reorganized their format and instead of ending with the Best Picture category, they instead chose the end it with Best Actor, expecting to give Chadwick Boseman a posthumous win and end the ceremony on an uplifting and celebratory level.
And then Anthony Hopkins won. And because he didn’t attend, the Academy accepted the award on his behalf. And then the Oscars ended. That was it.
To call it an anti-climax would be a monumental understatement. You have the Academy changing the placement of Best Picture for the first time in 40 years for a publicity stunt that completely and utterly failed. Sure, Anthony Hopkins delivered a great performance and to see him win isn’t impossible, but it was a foregone conclusion for Boseman to win. When he lost, I was laughing hysterically. A great moment that the Academy all but tailored and it fell flat with them now receiving flack for the unnecessary change from traditional filmgoers as well as casual fans expecting to see Boseman honored. But then again, watching the Academy try to be on the zeitgeist and failing to do so is a tradition at this point.
Trial of the Chicago 7 Is the Big Loser
It was a good night last night if you were a Best Picture contender. Basically every single Best Picture winner, from Sound of Metal to Promising Young Woman all took home at least one award. Of all of the nominees, Nomadland was the big winner, taking home Best Picture, Best Actress, and Chloe Zhao making history for being the first Asian woman and second woman ever to win Best Director after Kathryn Bigelow. But that just makes it all the more noticeable that Trial of the Chicago 7 took home nothing last night.
Like last year’s biggest loser The Irishman, Aaron Sorkin’s latest had a whole host of nominations across multiple categories, totaling six, yet won none of them. The film isn’t bad by any stretch of the word, but it’s an unremarkable movie that doesn’t do much to stand out from the crowd. Going into the awards Mank was your stereotypical Oscar bait nominee, but it emulated that in all of the best ways with a unique sense of flair and style to it while Trial just felt like it existed. Pour one out for Sorkin. 2021 just wasn’t his year at the Oscars.
Man That Was Rushed AND Boring
As someone who watches the Oscars every year, it’s not surprising that Covid-19 altered how the awards ceremony would be structured. The venue was a nice change of pace and seeing poorly green-screened feeds of directors and production crews from around the world had a nice charm to it, but my lord was the awards ceremony boring.
Coming in at just over three hours, the 2021 Oscars barrelled through all of its major awards at a breakneck pace, offering up very few tangents and technically no performances. Instead, you had the presenters giving some neat trivia about the nominees, which was kind of cool if you cared about the movie or person. To most people though, it was just white noise that delayed the winner being announced. There were also very few categories that actually had footage from each production shown. Off the top of my head, I can only recall seeing clips for the nominees of Best Director, Best Documentary, Best Editing, Best International Feature, and Best Animated Feature. In a year where so few people saw films, that really did hurt.
But the pace really just reinforced how lifeless the whole affair was. Outside of the random trivia, there was nothing to really latch onto. In a year where film visibility was at an all-time low and theaters were struggling to get by, many of which were unable to, time should have been spent to advertise all of the nominees and encourage people to see them in theaters. Even for movies that released on streaming services should have been shown off for a limited run engagement, but instead, the Oscars just felt like they needed to get it done just to put 2020 behind them. In that regard, it worked, but at the cost of no one really caring about anything that happened last night. All the more fitting that this year’s show resulted in a shocking less than 10 million viewers, the lowest ratings for the awards show of all time.
Random “What If?” Scenarios
So this isn’t really a major story but I got so bored watching the awards last night that I just came up with a random series of thoughts that crossed my mind as I glazed over the winners.
- What if instead of “Husavik” being nominated they just played “Jaja Ding Dong” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga? In fact, when didn’t they just play “Jaja Ding Dong” the whole time?
- I’m upset we don’t live in a world where Borat won an Oscar.
- When The Father won for Best Adapted Screenplay, the guy who accepted the award was shown receiving it via a live feed. Do you think that he knew he won the Oscar a long time before anyone else? Were they hiding it? Do you think he saw it and got excited? What if there was a gaffe like in 2016 that it would have been awkward if a producer of the show had to take it from him after staring at it for what I assume to be hours?
- Glenn Close has lost eight times in acting categories across her entire career but at least she did “Da Butt” on national television.
- I just want it on the record that the moment I saw Anthony Hopkins win Best Actor, I could feel the losing jingle from the Price is Right play. Seriously, that moment was just a brilliant disaster.
And that’s all of the major moments from the Academy Awards! Here’s to roast the Academy next year, being critical of any and all of their choices, and that next year won’t be as awful as this year. Now let us dance to “JaJa Ding Dong!”