Oscars: We could never screw up the ending of the ceremony worse than naming the wrong winner.
Also Oscars: Hold my drink.
After 3+ hours of low-energy, joyless presentations the show came to an abrupt halt after a shocking plot twist that went completely unacknowledged.
Flipping the Script
The Oscars bent over backwards, twisted themselves into knots and completely changed up the rundown to have their climactic moment honor the late Chadwick Boseman. They moved Best Director to the first hour of the ceremony. That means a lot of people missed Chloé Zhao becoming only the second woman to win the award (remember: it was only 5:55pm on the west coast and a lot of people weren’t tuned in yet). Then they moved Best Picture presentation ahead of Best Actor and Best Actress.
It felt awkward.
Partially because we’re not used to it, partially because none of the winners looked like they knew if they should go on stage, and partially because at this point it was clear that producers were trying to create a ‘moment’ for Boseman.
So when the time came, Joaquin Phoenix lists the nominees and then.. the ending no one saw coming. Sir Anthony Hopkins wins. He’s not there so Joaquin accepts on his behalf and.. umm… I guess everyone went home..?? It was a more cringeworthy ending than announcing the wrong winner.
Clearly the Academy was expecting a memorable and emotional moment like when Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded Best Supporting Actor. It was memorable alright but, like the rest of the show, it was devoid of emotion.
What Are You Talking About?
The Oscars lacked joy and context. This was a year when fewer people than ever saw the nominated films, and producers made sure it stayed that way. Clips of the performances and craftwork were incredibly rare. While presenting the award for Cinematography, Halle Berry says a lot of us probably don’t know what cinematography really is, and then makes sure we don’t get any insights by showing us clips of the work. Makeup and Hair really needs visuals to give context to viewers. But no, we just learned trivia about the nominees.
I get that the point was to give a more intimate look at the people behind the work, but I need to see the work. They showed clips for Documentary nominees and now I really want to see My Octopus Teacher.
There was so very little joy in that room that I was hoping Prozac was in the gift bags. Most of the winners gave perfunctory and long speeches. Maybe Covid protocols required people to stay in their seats and not shout. Whatever the reason, it felt more like a mandatory HR meeting with a fancy dress code.
And where was the music? None of the nominees for Original Song were performed during the ceremony. Those always lift the spirit in the room, set the tone for the nominated movies, and often create memorable moments. This year they were regulated to the (nearly unwatchable) pre-show. This didn’t have to be a Covid thing, no one would have cared if the performances were recorded that day.
Yet somehow, without five musical performances and no expanded clips and explanations of the Best Picture nominees, and only one bit of filler (Glenn Close doing Da Butt), the show still managed to go three and a half hours.
Everything about movies this year were cursed worse than teens hiding in a basement during a horror film. Most never saw a big screen. The tribute to Chadwick never happened. The Union Station venue was in a notoriously dangerous part of downtown LA and crew members were attacked.
You’d think after the accountants messed up so badly with the aforementioned wrong winner, they owe the Academy one and would have given them a heads up. Instead, this was the Clusteriest of Clusterf***s ever.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
I don’t even know what to drink. I guess I’ll treat my Oscar hangover with 2 Excedrin and chase it with the half beer I left on the table when I went to bed.