The best moments of Oscar 2021: history, glamor, upheaval and an anticlimactic ending


“Wait. What?” If that’s what you shouted on TV in the closing moments of Sunday’s Oscars, you weren’t alone. In what may have been the steepest ending since that latest shot of The Sopranos, viewers expecting a touching finale to crown the late Chadwick Boseman as Best Actor had to think about a huge upheaval, a winner absent and a quick “see you soon”. of the Oscars.

It was another unusual moment on the most unusual of all Oscar shows, which defied convention in so many ways. Some of them were good: In a pandemic year where awards faced unprecedented challenges, the Oscars brought back the glamor of the red carpet. And while many applicants weren’t able to attend in person, it was really encouraging to see which ones were.

The nominees were a huge leap forward in diversity, with more women and more actors of color nominated than ever before – but one of the often predicted outcomes wasn’t meant to be: a sweep of actor categories by actors. actors of color. Although supporting awards went to Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Dark Messiah) and Youn Yuh-jung (Minari), the Best Actor and Actress categories unexpectedly went to Anthony Hopkins and Frances McDormand, winning her third trophy in the category, for Nomadland.


But history was made all the same, especially by Chloe Zhao, the Chinese director of Nomadland who became only the second woman to win the award for best director and the first woman of color.

Frances McDormand and Chloe Zhao Frances McDormand and Chloe Zhao pose in the press room at the Oscars. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello, Pool)

And in a year when there was so much pain for all, his words were a balm – maybe exactly what a battered world needed. “It is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold on to the goodness within,” she said. “And to hold on to the goodness in one another.”

Some key moments from the Oscars:

Amidst the glamor, reminders of the real world


The Oscars might be about a Hollywood escape, but in her first moments, Regina King kept it real. The talented actor and director of One Night in Miami immediately reminded the world of both the scourge of the pandemic and the scourge of police violence. “We are mourning the loss of so many people, and I have to be honest, if things had turned out differently last week in Minneapolis, I might have traded in my heels for walking boots,” he said. she stated, in reference to the guilty verdict against Derek. Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd. She noted that some viewers prefer their Oscar ceremonies not to dwell on such things: “I know a lot of you at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is you. preach. But, she added, “as a mother of a black son, I know the fear that so many people live with, and no fame or fortune changes that, okay?”

Emerald Fennell backstage after his victory in the original screenplay. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)

A “ promising ” show for women

There was a rich history to making this Oscar night, and much of it came for women. First, Emerald Fennell, who won the evening’s top prize – best original screenplay – for the fierce and provocative revenge thriller Promising Young Woman, his directorial debut. The busy Fennell, who also found time for an acting role in The Crown, became the first woman in 13 years to win an Oscar for screenwriting. Fennell, who is pregnant, joked that she was also pregnant when she shot Promising Young Woman, and thanked her son for waiting until the end of the shoot to arrive: “I was crossing my legs.

A sad tribute

One of the benefits of telecasting allowing more time for speeches this year – without play-off music – was that some were deeper and more heartfelt. This was especially true of director Thomas Vinterberg, who, in a heartbreaking moment, dedicated his victory for Another Round (international feature film) to his late daughter Ida, who was supposed to be in the film but was killed at 19 in a car accident. by a driver looking at a cell phone, four days after filming. “Ida, it’s a miracle that just happened, and you are part of that miracle,” the director said in tears. “Maybe you pulled some strings somewhere.”

History, in more than one way

History had already been made in the achievement category before the envelope was opened. For the first time, two women were nominated, Zhao and Fennell. It was simply a monumental night for Zhao, the Chinese-born director who became only the second woman in Oscar history to win the director’s award, after Kathryn Bigelow, and the first woman of color. . His lyric Nomadland won the award for best film – an emphatic triumph for the elegant filmmaker. The next step for Zhao is something very different from that film made for less than $ 5 million: a Marvel movie with a budget of around $ 200 million.

Thank you mom – for sleeping with dad!

It’s always a good idea to pay tribute to your mom by winning an Oscar. Maybe not to talk about her sex life, especially when she’s sitting in the audience. Daniel Kaluuya gave a moving speech when he won the Best Supporting Actor award for his charismatic performance in Judas and the Black Messiah as Black Panther frontman Fred Hampton. Rhapsodic hair removal, he then said: “My mom met my dad, they had sex. It’s incredible. I am here. I am so happy to be alive. His mother could be clearly seen, sitting in his seat, asking what the hell he was talking about. Behind the scenes, Kaluuya explained, “She has a good sense of humor.”

Man and Cephalopod

Lots of Boyfriend movies have triumphed at the Oscars over the years. It was probably the first on a human and… an octopus. My Netflix Professor Octopus mounted a wave of fan enthusiasm to win the award for best feature documentary. With stunning graphics, the film tells the story of filmmaker Craig Foster, who became attached to an octopus. Noted James Reed, co-director with Pippa Ehrlich: “If a man can form a friendship with an octopus, it kind of makes you wonder what’s possible.”

Oh hey, Brad

Youn Yuh-jung has charmed Western audiences since her breakthrough in Minari, and the famous South Korean actress did not disappoint on Sunday when she won the award for Best Supporting Actress – only the second Asian actress to do so. In her speech, she joked about how often her name is mutilated and marveled at how she could possibly defeat candidate Glenn Close. Youn, 73, also dared to tease his presenter, Brad Pitt, whose company was involved in the production of Minari, for not visiting the Oklahoma plateau. “Mr. Brad Pitt, finally! She said.” Nice to meet you. “

Yuh-Jung Youn and Brad Pitt backstage. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)

Bypassed again, Close makes his mark

It probably wasn’t the kind of Oscar story she wanted to make: Close is now 0-8 at the Oscars, tying Peter O’Toole for most nominations without winning. She’ll surely win someday, but for Sunday’s telecast at least, she had to make her mark in another way. She did it with humor, in a rare comedy. While playing a game where Questlove would play a song and a celebrity would guess if she was nominated or won an Oscar, Close received ‘Da Butt’ from the EU. In what appeared to be a scripted moment, she exclaimed, “Wait a second. Wait a second. It’s Da Butt. She then jumped out of her seat and, well, twirled her butt, providing a much needed moment of levity.

Glenn Close before the ceremony. (AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)

Can we go back to the old way?

Yet another awkward moment at the Oscars for Joaquin Phoenix, who seems to specialize in it. Presenting the final Best Actor award, Phoenix undoubtedly expected – like most of the rest of the world – to present the award to Boseman, honoring the beloved actor posthumously for his superb performance in Ma’s Black Bottom. Rainey. Indeed, it seemed that the order of the awards had been altered, with the best picture presented before the best actress and actor, to capitalize on the expected emotional impact. Instead, Hopkins (also deserving of course) took home the award, and since he wasn’t there, it lent a weirdly abrupt end to the proceedings … to the Cut-To-Black in The Sopranos. . So… next time, can we go back to the old order, please?


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