Opinion: The Highs and lows of the Academy Awards

Arts & Entertainment

Nolen Kelly, Staff

Header image: ABC

The 93rd Oscar Awards Ceremony is finally over and it was a strange one. For those who watch them annually like I do, you know how pleasant the highs were and how uncomfortable the lows got, but if you did not watch it, this is where I come in to recap all the big wins, the bizarre filler segments and Don freaking Cheadle that happened on Sunday, April 25 at the Academy Awards. 

Post and Courier

Starting off is “Nomadland,” which won the coveted Best Picture award. I think this was a rough category to pick one single winner and it makes sense they went with “Nomadland.” I would say the only two movies that were in real competition for the award would have been “Nomadland” and “Minari.” The other movies nominated may have been good, but there was likely no chance “Promising Young Woman,” “The Father” or “Sound of Metal” were going to win due to the films being primarily driven by a solo performance. I really enjoyed “Nomadland,” and I am happy it won. “Nomadland” may have been another solo performance film, but I think that the freeform nature of the whole film made it feel like more than just a story about Fern, the protagonist.

Speaking of “Nomadland,” Frances McDormand tied Meryl Streep for three Oscar wins for her performance as Fern in the Best Picture winning film. I could have seen this award going to Viola Davis for her role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” but aside from that I do not think this was a hard category to pick. I am a big Carey Mulligan fan, especially when she starred alongside Ryan Gosling in the 2011 neo-noir drama “Drive,” but I did not think she would walk out with an award for this, unfortunately. Youn Yuh-jung scooped the Best Supporting Actress award for her performance in “Minari.” I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing “Minari” or even any of the other performances nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category, but I think this win made the most sense as well due to the amount of attention “Minari” was getting for its performances. There is no way the Academy would have the cajones to award anything associated with the name “Borat,” so unfortunately Maria Bakalova did not have much of a chance to win. Glenn Close received a nomination in complete opposite receptions for her performance in “Hillbilly Elegy,” an Oscar nomination and a Razzie nomination. Razzies are the Oscars for bad movies with frequent nominees being anyone associated with Adam Sandler and big muscular action stars like former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. Long story short, Glenn Close was not winning, and she especially was not winning after she twerked during a violently uncomfortable segment that took place earlier in the night. I will get to that later.

Rolling Stone

Transitioning onto what was the most controversial win of the night, Sir Anthony Hopkins became the oldest winner of the Best Actor award for his performance in “The Father,” a film about dealing with dementia and trying to remain a good father. I have not seen the full film, but I have seen some moments that are a bit hard to watch as his dementia quickly breaks Hopkins’s character down in a heartbreaking way. I gave my thoughts on who I think actually should have won, Riz Ahmed, in my review of “Sound of Metal.” Although the late Chadwick Boseman picked up the Golden Globe for Best Actor for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” he was ultimately not awarded the posthumous Oscar. I could have seen this award going to either Boseman or Ahmed, but Hopkins is a quality actor and I do not think his win was the worst decision ever. To be frank, the biggest shock of the night was that Don Cheadle was not awarded Best Actor for simply gracing the Academy Awards with his presence.

 Daniel Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor for “Judas and the Black Messiah” and I am really happy for him. I remember seeing Kaluuya at the 2018 Oscars for “Get Out” and I knew that his time would be very soon and now here we are. This category had no bad results. All the nominees are phenomenal and I would have been happy to see LaKeith Stanfield, another future talent I have my eyes on, the genius Paul Raci from “Sound of Metal,” Sacha Baron Cohen, the best actor from “Trial of the Chicago 7,” or “Hamilton” actor Leslie Odom Jr. for his time as Sam Cooke in “One Night in Miami.” 

For a full list of Oscar nominees and winners, please check out our rundown, but let me break down some other notable awards in a lightning round. Nine Inch Nails’ members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross beat Nine Inch Nails’ members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to become two-time Oscar winners for their soundtrack for Pixar’s “Soul” which also won Best Animated Feature, yes, this statement is correct; Trent and Atticus were nominated twice in the same category for “Soul” and “Mank.” Chloe Zhao won Best Director for “Nomadland” and Danish Drama/Comedy “Another Round” won for International Feature Film. This film did not win, but I recommend the documentary “Collective” about a Romanian nightclub fire that severely injured many and killed several more. An investigation into the hospital treatments of the victims led to a countrywide scandal about hospital fraud in the dilution of its products. It is a fascinating documentary that somehow did not go global, and kept me glued throughout.

Vanity Fair

So much stuff happened at the Oscars that were not even related to the wins and losses of the nominees. Best Supporting Actress nominee Glenn Close took part in a segment to guess a song’s relation to the Oscars and was given Da Butt’s “You Were Getting Down” and so she stood up and did a twerk/stanky leg hybrid dance and I straight up did not enjoy it. I also did not appreciate the lack of Don Cheadle winning awards in all categories, I would say it is the biggest robbery of any performance in history and I will be boycotting next year. I thought it was adorable when Youn Yuh-jung won Best Supporting Actress and introduced herself to presenter and fellow two-time People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive winner, Brad Pitt. In Hopkins’s thankful speech that he would put out the following day, he paid tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman and thanked everyone for his new achievement. The In-Memoriam section was nice, but of course there were a few missed names including “Glee” actress Naya Rivera and “Arrested Development”/ “Archer” matriarch, Jessica Walter. One of the most notable aspects of the entire award show was that it did not take place in the Dolby Theater where it annually takes place but rather at the Union Station Los Angeles.

All-in-all the 2021 Academy Awards were kind of awkward during the filler segments, but the winners were some real history makers. A lot of good decisions and a decent amount of diversity in the nominations alone made this show pretty positive. The lack of a single host and the change of scenery helped keep the show going and I cannot wait to see what other incredible movies we will get for next year.

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