Awards analysis is provided by Sean from @MathTeacherMovies.
Before I talk about the ceremony let me go through my score, 14/23… that is terrible. I went for quite a few upsets in the technicals where I should have gone with the safe picks and then should have picked upsets elsewhere including the most unexpected upset on the entire ballot, but more on that later.
Produced by Steven Soderbergh, the show opened with a fresh and cool opening that felt like one of his movies following Regina King walking to the stage as the credits rolled. King then did a terrific job introducing the opening of the ceremony, handling the advanced criticism of Covid protocols and racial politics.
I have been someone who wholeheartedly wants clips when it comes to announcing the acting nominees, but having stories about each of the actors and their experiences in movies while a presenter describes the best of their performance can be a true tribute as well.
The table designs made for a more classy and intimate setting but also kept it casual. It felt a bit like an old fashioned Golden Globes which is why many may have taken issue with the set up. It may have been born out of desperation, due to the pandemic, and while we all miss the theater, this was a lovely substitute.
There seemed to be a classic esthetic in the setting where it felt like an Oscars that was from an earlier decade. While it was manipulating a predictable sun position, the setting made great use of the natural light and the timing worked for the mood of the performance.
The intimate setting helped bring some beautifully natural speeches, especially the supporting performances including Daniel Kaluuya’s speech that was truly natural and passionate, making awkward comments about personal matters and charmingly realizing it after. Meanwhile, Youn You-jung gave another natural speech that was humble and hysterical. Between messing up on a joke and then recognizing it and keeping going and shooting her shot with Brad Pitt, she is an absolute treat.
Another great element of the speeches was not playing someone off. This can always be a tricky balance, because on one hand you could have people that talk about an Octopus for far too many minutes, or you can have Thomas Vinterberg giving an emotional tribute to his late daughter. However, it was great to honor the artists that in true Soderbergh fashion…he Let Them All Talk.
The satellites then transmitted into other locations and the quality was surprisingly going off without a hitch for those accepting awards. They made a beautiful connection between so many different places around the world, especially when Bong Joon-ho presented in the Best Director award from South Korea.
Lil Rel Howery doing Oscars trivia was fun and loosened up the crowd. It also created the amazing gif of Glenn Close twerking which is the finest moment of the night, regardless of whether or not it was scripted. However, it was brought out far too late in the night, where the energy was already starting to get a bit low and things needed to be rushed.
Up until this moment, the ceremony was pretty much okay, it had its flaws and disappointments but this is when things get weird. Best Picture was announced before Actor and Actress, which was done decades before and felt both confusing and insane. This might have been because the Actor and Actress was going to be both surprising and emotional instead of surprising and literally show stopping.
The chaotic Best Actress race finally ended with the honoring of a talented and unconventional performer by the name of Frances McDormand. She is quickly rising into Oscar royalty and tonight was a great moment as she continues to climb and be her own original spirit.
The ending of this ceremony was probably the toughest moment of the night. Chadwick Boseman ended up losing in the largest upset of the year to Anthony Hopkins. The problem was this huge surprise was handled by no speech and an insanely abrupt conclusion that was a picture of Hopkins and an uncomfortable Joaquin Phoenix.
This is a rough look for the Oscars. Anthony Hopkins is wonderful in The Father, and deserves an Oscar. However, there were aspects bigger than the performance tonight such as honoring the legacy of an actor taken far too early, giving another performance that is Oscar worthy.
While this is an upset, it was always possible because of what happens in a voting body. There were older voters who were British and wanted to vote for their guy, there were others who figured Boseman was a lock and therefore voted for Hopkins, and finally there are those voters that don’t want to be pushed into the narrative of honoring a later great artist. This combination contributed to Boseman’s unfortunate loss of the award.
Everyone asks every year what this means for the future of the Oscars. They will be going back to the traditional theater next year and the movies we watch will also be available in theaters again. But in terms of viewership, I doubt the ratings will be great and it doesn’t seem like many saw the movies either. There will be more articles on this in the future, but for now it was great to watch a ceremony full of surprises even when some of them were disappointments.