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2021 Oscars Recap, Winners and Losers

The 93rd Academy Awards (Oscars) took place last night, and if you watched, you know that it wasn’t quite the same as other years, likely not coming as a surprise after a year like 2020. Let’s take a look back at what made this year’s ceremony especially unique, and most importantly, who were the night’s biggest winners and losers. 

Unique Happenings at this Year's Show

You might’ve noticed that this year’s Oscars had a distinctly different style than previous years. Most of the ceremony took place in the historic Los Angeles Union Station, rather than its usual venue of the Dolby Theatre. Everything from the venue layout, color schemes, graphic styles, nominee listings, even cinematography, was vastly different from typical years. Some of these choices may be a bit off-putting to traditional fans of the awards, but to many (including myself), all of these differences brought a nice, fresh flavor to what normally feels like a predictable awards ceremony. One of my favorite aspects of the night was the unique, personal way that nominees were listed by presenters. Instead of a normal “clip-show” style where every nominee would have a small video clip play as they were announced, this year presenters would instead give small anecdotes or descriptions specifically about the nominee. This made each nominee feel just as important as the other, elevating the importance of not just the winner of said award, but how each nominee had achieved something special just to be nominated. 

Biggest Winners at the 2021 Oscars

The biggest award of the night went to “Nomadland,” winning best picture after the film’s director Chloé Zhao also won for best director. Not long after, Frances McDormand took home the award for best actress, giving “Nomadland” a clean sweep of some of the night’s biggest categories. In an impressive feat, this was McDormand’s third academy award win for best actress, winning in both 1997 and 2019 previously. Also impressive, Zhao is the first woman of color and the first woman of Asian descent to win best director. and she is only the second woman to win in the history of the Academy Awards. Other groundbreaking wins included Yuh-jung Youn from the film “Minari,” who became the first Korean actress to win for best supporting role. And Anthony Hopkins – who is now the oldest Oscar winner ever after winning best actor for his role in “The Father.” Though Hopkins is considered a Hollywood legend, his win came as a bit of an upset to those that were expecting the award to go to the late Chadwick Boseman. Hopkins wasn’t present to give an acceptance speech, but if he were I doubt he would’ve given a better speech than Yuh-jung Youn, whose entertaining speech included asking award presenter Brad Pitt, “Where were you while we were filming?” Other notable winners include “Sound of Metal” which took home awards for film editing and achievement in sound, “Mank” which won for cinematography and production design, “Soul” which won best animated feature and best score, and “Judas and the Black Messiah” winning best song for H.E.R.’s “Fight For You” and best supporting actor for Daniel Kaluuya’s portrayal of Fred Hampton.   Of course, there were many other winners throughout the night, but no one deserves an award greater than Glenn Close for her rousing rendition of “Da Butt” that took place during a segment of Academy Awards music trivia that was hosted by Lil Rey Howery and ceremony music master, Questlove. If you didn’t see this moment during the show or randomly on your social media feeds, I highly encourage you to look it up. 

Biggest Losers

Potentially the biggest area of scrutiny from the whole show has come from many viewers that felt that the “In Memoriam” portion of the night was rushed, or even abbreviated, with some notable actors that passed this year not even being mentioned. Naya Rivera, Jessica Walter and Adam Schlesinger were some of the names mentioned on social media by upset viewers. Even some those that were honored during the segment would only be on-screen for close to 1 second or less before moving onto the next, barely leaving enough time to read their full name and occupation. Why they chose to have such a rushed in-memoriam segment in a year where so many lives were lost is certainly head scratching, but so was the choice to make the show end on the award for best actor instead of best picture. Many people online are guessing that the show’s producers were planning on a Chadwick Boseman win. Then the show would end in a way that would honor the late actor winning for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Instead, Anthony Hopkins won. Since he wasn’t present to accept the award and give a speech, it all just sort of… ended. Certainly there should have been some kind of backup plan in place in the event of Boseman not winning the award. This was potentially another problem that could have been avoided all together by doing a slower-paced and more involved in-memoriam segment. These moments and certainly many others that ranged from inspiring and touching to sobering and thought-provoking, made for a truly unique night that was unlike most other ceremonies of its kind. And love it or hate it, you at least have to admire the risks that were taken to make this year’s show stick out from the usual cliched glitz and glam of Hollywood.  

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