I'm still not sure whether I'd have been better off watching my usual Sunday night shows, though. As I commented to one friend on Facebook, the venue (a renovated Union Station in Los Angeles) was gorgeous but the usual buzz was sadly lacking.
Part of the fun of Oscar night is reading the reviews of the show the next morning, and best/worst moments lists. Some of the best ones I found include The Globe & Mail, The New York Times, and both a review and a best/worst list from Entertainment Weekly.
To summarize some of my own feelings about the evening:
- While I'm not sure the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag should be retired yet, it was nice to see the increased diversity of the nominees/winners this year.
- There were some lovely, heartfelt speeches, but I particularly liked:
- Best Supporting Actress winner Yuh-Jung Youn of Minari (especially her callout to Brad Pitt, lol).
- Thomas Vinterberg, the director of the Danish film that won Best Foreign/International Picture, who expressed his grief over the death of his 19-year-old daughter.
- Tyler Perry, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner.
- Frances McDormand, urging everyone to return to the movie theatres "soon," a reminder of what the evening is (supposed to be) about. (Not sure about the wolf howl, though?! -- apparently it was a shoutout to a team member who died.)
- It was nice to see the two Humanitarian Awards presented (Tyler Perry, and the Motion Picture & Television Fund, celebrating its centennial this year), in a year when we could all use some reminders about kindness and humanity.
- Halle Berry (gorgeous colour).
- Marlee Matlin (who looked fabulous overall).
- Regina King (loved the colour & rhinestones, but not the shoulders, which gave me the feeling that she was going to take off & fly).
- Carey Mulligan (although I wish her dress had been an actual dress and not a full ballgown skirt with a bandeau top).
- Maria Bakalova -- although I was afraid her breasts might pop out from those narrow fabric strips covering them, lol.
- Viola Davis. :)
- Paulina Porizkova (there with Aaron Sorkin?!).
- The small audience and social distancing made the ceremony possible, but it killed the usual buzz from the packed audience. The reactions seemed muted. It just didn't seem like the Oscars.
- Next to no clips of the nominated films & performances! They are a big part of why I watch the Oscars. As the Globe & Mail critic wrote:
Having the award presenters rhapsodize about the nominated work is a nice touch, but the decision to largely exclude footage of the actual films and performances is, if not a slap, then an annoying and unnecessary flick in the face of the nominees. This is an especially weird decision given that general awareness of this year’s films is at an all-time low. Maybe if home audiences actually saw a glimpse of the movies that were being celebrated, they’d be that much more inclined to check them out.
- Where were the other special/scientific/honorary awards? I know they stopped presenting them at the main awards show a few years back, to help save time (they now get their own special celebrations) -- but they usually at least mention who the winners were and show a few clips. (Or did they do this during the pre-show, as they did with the performances of the nominated songs?) Why show/present the two Humanitarian Award winners, but not these others?
- The In Memoriam segment. I know people are always complaining about who's been left out, but speeding up the pace to show a different person every two seconds is not the way to go... if you blinked, you'd miss someone. It seemed kind of disrespectful. :p
- The whole last part of the show, including:
- The decision -- at 10:45ish, with three major awards left to present and possibility of actually finishing something close to on time, to inject in a bizarre quiz segment that was obviously completely set up to give us the spectacle of Glenn Close demonstrating "Da Butt" and getting bleeped by the censors. A few of the critics I read actually liked it, but I could have done without it. If you're going to pad the show between handing out awards, show more clips!!
- The decision not to reveal the winner of Best Picture at the end of the evening. Apparently this used to be the norm... 70-80 years ago. The last time Best Picture was not the final award presented was 1971, when an elderly Charlie Chaplin made a rare appearance to accept an honorary Oscar (and I'm old enough to remember that night -- it was something special!). Best Picture should always be last, unless you have someone with the stature of Charlie Chaplin to close the show.
- I think Chadwick Boseman was an amazing talent and his death at such a young age (43) was a tragedy. I haven't seen any of the nominated films/performances this year, so I don't know whether he deserved the Oscar more than Anthony Hopkins. But I disliked the feeling that the entire evening was being manipulated toward that Hollywood ending. Boseman was the last person shown in the "In Memoriam" segment, and I fully expected that Best Actor would be the next award presented (with him winning) -- so I was shocked when they went straight to Best Picture. It was obvious that Best Actor would be last, with Boseman's presumed posthumous win an emotional climax t othe evening. And then Anthony Hopkins was declared the winner -- and he wasn't even there, in person or on camera, to accept. So the evening ended on a completely flat note. (I don't blame Sir Anthony -- he's 83 and it was the middle of the night/very early morning, UK time!) A good lesson for future organizers...!
- Said Entertainment Weekly: "Best Picture should come at the end for so many reasons, and now we know the main reason is that someone will always be there to pick up the trophy."
- Laura Dern's feathers.
- Zendaya's stomach cutout (even if she has a washboard stomach, it just looked odd to me).
- Andra Day -- the top was fine, and the cut-out on the side of the bodice didn't bother me the way Zendaya's did -- but I kept wondering where the other side of the bottom of her dress was??
- Glenn Close. Nice colour on her, but the tunic over pants did nothing for me.
I also had to agree with the Globe & Mail writer who wrote
Maybe it was the fact I was watching from the cold, cruel, largely un-vaccinated land of Toronto, but staring at beautiful celebrities – sometimes masked, sometimes not – mingling at L.A.’s Union Station under the California sun was a jarring experience. On the one hand, here’s hope that a normal world is just around the corner! And maybe even Carey Mulligan will be there to greet me! On the other: God, this was a cruel exercise for those who aren’t even allowed to get near cherry blossoms or tennis courts, let alone get dressed up for real-deal socialization...
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences apparently employed an army of epidemiologists to help pull the evening together (glad they all had so much spare time), and most everyone in attendance was (from my understanding) vaccinated. All of which made the evening’s mask instructions, as delivered by King at the top of the show … peculiar. “When we’re rolling: mask off. When we’re not rolling: masks on.” So either the masks were a complete farce in the first place given current CDC guidelines, or COVID is only a thing during commercial breaks, or …??? But hey, I’m in a country where rapid tests still aren’t even a thing, so I defer to Hollywood’s handling of the situation.
Did you watch? What did you think?
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.