As expected, this was a weird ceremony. The 2021 Academy Awards served as a cog in hopes of regularity going forward. There were surprises, well deserved winners, and some not so much. But hey, Hollywood got it done. Not all of the locks won and many of the deserving lost. In no particular order, here is my top 10 Moments from the 2021 Oscar.
10. Director Thomas Vinterberg Pours His Heart Out (“Another Round”):
This was easily the best speech of the night. Director Thomas Vinterberg was one of the rare Foreign Film directors nominated in the category. Obviously he was not going to win there (Innaritu for “Roma” still the only one to do so). But the nomination made Vinterberg and his dark comedy “Another Round” a lock to win Best Foreign Film. When Vinterberg got up on the stage he was immensely humble and thanked all involved. But it was the tale of his daughter tragically dying in the middle of shooting that truly pulled at the heart strings. Everybody in the room shut up out of respect for such a tremendous story, realizing that somehow this filmmaker still has so much life left in him to share with the world through his craft.
9. “Promising Young Woman” Does Not Get Shut Out:
I was certain the best film nominated and my third favorite film of 2020 was going to be completely shut out. “Promising Young Woman” was a masterpiece of dark humor centered around the continual sexual harassment women face every day. Carey Mulligan’s main character takes matters into her own hands and screws with so called ‘Good Guys’ every week to teach the predators a lesson. It is brilliant, but I thought it would be glossed over. Turns out the first award of the night went to the one deserving it for Emerald Fennell who was both writer and director on the film. On top of that, she was pregnant during the 28 day shoot! Movie magic at its best that is actually recognized for all of the right reasons.
8. Frances McDormand Wins Again (“Nomadland”):
Truthfully I think she’s bored after seeing this speech. Frances McDormand wins her third, yes third, Oscar for her role as a downtrodden gypsy in best picture winner “Nomadland”. She deserved the win for both “Fargo” and “Three Billboards”. In this case, she was good, but did nothing special. I would have gone Vanessa Kirby for “Pieces of a Woman” or Carey Mulligan for “Promising Young Woman”. And the funny part is, you could see it in McDormand’s speech. The whole tone was basically a ‘meh’ mentality. I’m guessing that statue is going to end up as a doorstop.
7. Tyler Perry Wins Humanitarian Award:
I have yet to see a movie with Tyler Perry in it that is even close to quality cinema. I have no idea why his Madea character is so popular, and his other side projects reveal just how talentless an actor he is. All of that aside, Tyler Perry has been a tremendous figure in the community, supporting African-Americans across the country. The opening of his Tyler Perry studios in racist Georgia was a monumental moment in cinema history. The thousands of lives this man has touched is inspiring and very much deserving of being recognized. I ask you to please stop making movies Tyler even though I know you will not listen. But as a humanitarian, keep up the amazing work you are doing every day sir.
6. Best Picture & Best Director Are Not the Last Two Awards Given:
Wait, what?! The award for Best Picture and Best Director were not the final two awards?! Those are the two biggest awards of any award show celebrating film. Obviously the winners were a foregone conclusion with “Nomadland” being the clear frontrunner in both categories, but how do you sully the two biggest awards by putting them in the middle of the pack? I know you thought the big award would be Best Actor (more on that later) which you saved for the end. Yet how do you not end the show with Best Picture? There is not a joke here unlike what the Academy decided to do. How is Best Picture not the final award? Were you afraid another “La, La Land” incident might happen?
5. Best Documentary: “My Octopus Teacher” A Discovery Channel Special Wins?:
When did a creepy guy from the Discovery Channel realm of movie making become the star of an Oscar winning film? “Time” was a slow burn of a story about a man who committed a crime and was convicted for way too long because of his skin color. “Crip Camp” showcased the amazing work of volunteers supporting disabled human beings shortly after ‘Woodstock’. And the Academy went with “My Octopus Teacher”, a movie about a deep sea diver who has a love affair with an octopus off the coast of South Africa. Really? Multiple documentaries about real issues and the award goes to a dude playing handsy with an octopus. Makes no sense to me.
4. “If Anything Happens I Love You” Beats “Genius Loci” What?!:
The film that should have won in this category, “Genius Loci”, lost because it was overly sophisticated for many voters. The story of a young woman digesting urban chaos with the help of a mystical guide is absolutely captivating for anyone who is an artist. The film feels like entering a Picasso painting in which the viewer can interpret things visually on their own terms. “If Anything Happens I Love You” is a solid piece. The tone of the tragedy having previously taken place and the aftermath of such circumstances hits one in the heart. Yet the film does not measure up to the shear element of animated creativity that “Genius Loci” was able to achieve.
3. The Incredibly Odd and Boring Set Up For Awards:
Talk about awkward. The 2021 Oscars were even stranger than the 2020 awards when everything was done on Zoom. Hosted mostly in a train station (did not know L.A. had those), the set up of nominees being put into random booths with crappy lighting was plain weird. Also, the introducing of nominees’s background stories felt like a bad episode of ‘Jeopardy’. And let us not forget how fast they went through the ‘In Memorium’ category, so disrespectful. Get a host back, figure out pairings that can present an award together, and ditch the new creative ways to shoot the show. There’s a reason your viewership plummeted this year…
2. Yu-jung Youn and Daniel Kaluuya Being the First Best Supporting Actor/Actress to win the award in 30 years at the Same Time When they Both Deserved It . No Upsets in Two Major Categories:
It is rare for me to not argue with the winners of two major categories. In the case of Best Supporting Actor and Actress, I have no problem. Both Daniel Kaluuya and Yu-Jong Youn delivered two of the best performances in 2020. Kaluuya blew the screen wide open with “Judas and the Black Messiah”, playing a famous Black Panther activist who could deliver speeches with the best of them. Youn was the quirky grandmother we all would wish to have, particularly when trying to immigrate into a rural farm community in America. Two actors absolutely deserving of their respective trophies.
1. Chadwick Boseman Got Snubbed for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”:
How the hell did this happen? Truthfully and objectively, both Anthony Hopkins for “The Father” and Riz Ahmed for “Sound of Metal” deserved this award over Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”. This wasn’t Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” in which he deserved the award despite dying. But still, it’s just a piece of metal! Boseman had an untimely death and did deliver an amazing performance as a fast thinking jazz man. How you decide to give it to Hopkins, who already has an Oscar, instead of honoring a Hollywood icon is beyond me. This is a true stain on the brand that is Oscar.