The cringiest moments of this year’s Oscars
Americans are totally over the Academy Awards
Sunday night’s Academy Awards ended with a strange abruptness that captured the awkwardness of the entire ceremony. Traditionally, the producers save the best picture award for last, but this year, they put it ahead of the presentations for best actress and best actor.
The late Chadwick Boseman, beloved for his portrayal of Black Panther in Marvel movies, received a best actor nomination for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The producers seemed to expect to end the night by celebrating Boseman’s legacy. But when Anthony Hopkins, who wasn’t even at the ceremony, won best actor for his role in The Father, the Oscars hastily closed with no speech or fanfare.
The film industry didn’t have much to celebrate in 2020, and the 93rd Academy Awards didn’t do much to restore the faith in movie magic. For the third straight year, the Oscars had no host, but this year the producers pared back other aspects of the ceremony, too: no comedy routines, no musical numbers, no video montages, no silly sketches. The producers, who included famous screenwriter Steven Soderbergh, opted for a more intimate feel with a dinner-theater aesthetic in Los Angeles’ Union Station.
Before announcing the winners, each award’s presenter related anecdotes about the how the nominees came to love the art of filmmaking. They were meant to provide a glimpse into nominees’ lives, but the anecdotes all started to sound the same after a while, a problem compounded by most presenters’ dispirited reading.
The night had a few memorable moments. Korean actress Yuh-jung Youn stole hearts with her humorous acceptance speech and her reminder that movie making shouldn’t be a competition. Harrison Ford, in presenting the award for best editing, read a funny list of criticisms of his 1982 film Bladerunner. Actress Frances McDormand pierced the ceremony’s subdued atmosphere by letting loose with a wolf howl after Nomadland won best picture.
The most talked about moment of the night had nothing to do with the nominated movies. Actor and producer Tyler Perry won the humanitarian award for his work during the pandemic. Perry donated meals to those in need, and he pioneered safe working conditions by creating a filming bubble at his Atlanta studio, allowing thousands of people to keep working when others in the industry lost their jobs.
Perry used his acceptance speech to promote tolerance and warn against passing judgment. “I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or LBGTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian,” he said. Debate over Perry’s inclusion of police officers on the list overshadowed every other moment of the night on Twitter.
Award shows in general haven’t fared well in TV ratings in recent years, but according to The Hollywood Reporter, this year’s Oscars shed 58 percent of its already-record-low viewership from a year ago. If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expects Americans to care about the Oscars, they need to make the Oscars entertaining again, which means making the Oscars about the movies that entertain us.