THE 2021 OSCARS CEREMONY WAS A NOBLE, DOOMED EXPERIMENT

In a year when most people haven’t been able to go to a movie theater, the producers of the delayed 2021 Oscars promised to deliver an awards show that felt like a movie.

Twenty-four karat gold-dusted Valrhona Illanka Chocolate Oscars are pictured at the press preview for the 91st Academy Awards Governors Ball, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Los Angeles. The 91st Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF THE PANDEMIC OSCARS
The riveting gold dress of Andra Day, Chloé Zhao’s shout-out to Werner Herzog, and nostalgia for the live tears of Gwyneth Paltrow.

The world has fallen prey to a pandemic. Millions of people have died. Millions have become sick or lost their jobs. Hundreds of millions have stayed home and watched TV, forbidden to visit a cinema and trapped in shame by their self-administered haircuts. For the sake of universal morale, therefore, it was deemed to be of paramount importance that the ninety-third Academy Awards should go ahead on Sunday. And it was only right that the bulk of the ceremony should be staged at a railroad station—to be specific, Union Station, in Los Angeles. An obvious choice. If it was good enough for the climax of “Garfield: The Movie,” it’s good enough for the Oscars.

For Harrison Ford, who was presenting the award for Best Film Editing, the whole night must have felt like a flashback. Here he was, returning to the high-windowed place that had taken the role of a police station, in “Blade Runner,” the only difference being that he was now wearing a tuxedo instead of a dark-brown trench coat with the collar turned up. The years have done little to smooth away Ford’s grumpiness, and on Sunday he played it up in style, growling softly as he drew a crumpled scrap of paper from his pocket, like a cop with a clue, and read out some old studio notes on “Blade Runner.” The implication was clear: given the purgatorial slog of creating a film, we should count ourselves lucky that any coherent movies, let alone great ones, make it through the system at all. READ MORE


FRANCES MCDORMAND’S THIRD OSCAR WIN PUTS HER ONE STEP CLOSER TO MOST HONORED BEST ACTRESS

Frances McDormand’s third Oscar win puts her nearly in a league of her own.

McDormand won the Best Actress award on Sunday night at the 93rd Academy Awards for her role in “Nomadland.”

She previously won the Oscar for Best Actress for her roles in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in 2018 and “Fargo” in 1997.

If she wins another in this category during her career she will tie with the late Katharine Hepburn, who has the most wins with four.

McDormand played Fern in “Nomadland,” about a woman who lives in her van and travels across the midwest.  READ MORE


OSCARS NIGHT THRILLS WITH HISTORIC WINS WHILE CHADWICK BOSEMAN OVERLOOKED IN REVAMPED SHOW
Nomadland takes home 3 Oscars, Anthony Hopkins beats out Boseman for best actor

The 93rd annual Academy Awards returned to our screens on Sunday as the capstone on a year of pandemic-adapted awards shows.

Oscars 2021 was a night of firsts and fashion, speeches and upsets, and definitely of change.

A different medium
“Oh, Jesus, I made it,” Regina King said at the top of the show. “It has been quite a year, and we are still smack dab in the middle of it.”

The director and actor’s words could have spoken for the industry itself. King was the first of the show’s cast of presenters, who took the stage instead of a traditional Oscar host. They included fellow stars Halle Berry, Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford.

The show’s cast wasn’t the only thing to look different. As the camera swung around to the audience, a sparse crowd seated at individual tables gave off the vibe of a comedy club — just without quite as many jokes.  READ MORE


OSCARS 2021 WAS NOT A MOVIE. IT WAS PRESTIGE TV.

In a year when most people haven’t been able to go to a movie theater, the producers of the delayed 2021 Oscars promised to deliver an awards show that felt like a movie. Most of us did not know what that meant, exactly, until the broadcast kicked off with a long tracking shot of Regina King strutting into the ceremony while the “opening titles” of the Oscars splashed across the screen in boldly colored fonts. If you were not aware that Steven Soderbergh was one of the producers of the 93rd Academy Awards, you were after watching that.

But here’s the thing: The Oscars telecast was never meant to be a movie. The thing that the organizers of this celebration of cinema have never wanted to say out loud is that while the Oscars may be about the movies, what it needs to be for viewers at home is top-notch live television. Prestige live TV if you will.

For a sizable portion of the night, it actually was that. Soderbergh and co-producers Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins, who also produced this year’s Grammys, blew up the traditional format and built something that looked different, with results that were often refreshing and exciting, but other times disastrous. Without question, the most misguided choice of the night was the decision to announce Best Picture earlier than usual and close the show with the presentations of Best Actress and Actor. It seems fair to assume that the Oscar organizers thought the late Chadwick Boseman was a lock in the final category, Best Actor, and that ending with an emotional tribute to him would be fitting for a ceremony that followed so much pandemic loss and intense racial upheaval.  READ MORE


THE 2021 OSCARS CEREMONY WAS A NOBLE, DOOMED EXPERIMENT

“Why even bother?,” I thought to myself pretty much immediately after turning on E!’s red carpet Oscars pre-show. There was eight-time nominee Glenn Close, standing behind a velvet rope, six feet from Giuliana Rancic. All this desperate, vain scramble to make an Oscars night that seemed as close to normal as possible, and in that trying pushing us even further away from the reality of old.

ABC’s formal pre-show was livelier, more intimate, but still provoked glum feelings. From a lushly appointed space outside of Los Angeles’s Union Station (a still active train depot, even during the awards broadcast), we at home—we sunken into our couches for 13 months now—watched the minglings of a wan, tasteful cocktail party. There was no packed red carpet dotted, like a pointillist painting, with famous faces. It was just this tentative, quiet thing; still luxe, but not robust. It all made me think that they should have just skipped the Oscars ceremony altogether and simply set more realistic sights on reviving it next year, when everyone will hopefully be capable of a real party.

Then the show began, with a rush of director Steven Soderbergh’s trademark cool glide. It opened with a tracking shot of presenter (and past winner) Regina King strutting through Union Station as opening credits appeared on screen in a kicky, retro font. I sat forward on my couch, genuinely intrigued for what felt like the first time during this rickety awards season. Maybe we were really going to get a show, one that captured some of the glitz and glory that is the Academy Awards at its silliest, swooniest, and most enjoyable. It felt, for a moment, worth the bother.  READ MORE


 

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