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The Highs and Lows of the 93rd Academy Awards

After a day of reflection (for more emotion, listen to our latest podcast episode here), I’m ready to talk more about the Oscars. To be sure, the Academy Awards were a mixed bag this year, as they always are, but the 93rd ceremony certainly stood out. There were some ways in which that was actually a positive, but obviously, some of the more notable ways were on the negative end of the spectrum. Today, we’re going to talk about the highlights and lowlights of the show. Normally, I do make a point of not going negative whenever possible (go here for reasons why), but this is a bit of an exception…

Below, you’ll see what I felt the highs and lows of the telecast wound up being. In short, it was fine, and even perhaps a bit refreshing, changes-wise, until we reached the biggest change. That was, in my opinion, unforgivable, and really ruined things. More next, but just know that I almost always think the shows are good, so for this to bug me, it must have really bugged me.

Highlights

The actual winners – For all of the issues with the telecast itself, the winners were very strong. Anthony Hopkins doesn’t deserve hate for beating Chadwick Boseman, as he’s just as deserving a recipient of Best Actor. Frances McDormand may not generate much excitement in Best Actress, but she still delivers strong work. Up and down the line, everyone and everything was a good to great winner. Aside from the shut out for The Trial of the Chicago 7, the love was spread out, and the victors were all ones you could get behind. It’s a shame that the show obfuscated that. We should be celebrating the Academy embracing smaller fare like Nomadland and Promising Young Woman. Instead, we’re just fuming about production choices.

The “pregame” show – I’m of the opinion that Oscar Sunday should be an all-day affair. Give me a six hour telecast. Seriously. So, the pregame show of sorts was a nice addition. Oscars After Dark was something I was more indifferent to, but the early pregame show definitely worked. I’ll even forgive them stashing the Best Original Song nominee performances there.

Managing to avoid Zoom – Listen, I’m fully in favor of talent opting to stay home and stay safe. That being said, it’s unavoidable that the year of Zoom awards was growing stale. So, seeing the way the Academy managed to make the multi-location ceremony work was admirable. Even for those who weren’t in Union Station, it felt like they were still a part of the Academy Awards.

Lowlights

Minimal/No clips of the nominees – We addressed this on the podcast, but in a year where less people than usual weren’t familiar with the nominees, why not advertise them? Opting not to show clips of the nominated acting performances is absolutely mind-boggling, especially when certain categories still got them. It literally made no sense, sabotaging what should be a prime opportunity to bring in new viewers for these movies.

The attempt at making this a “film” instead of an awards show – I’m lumping in the lack of clips here, but mainly focusing on the trivia segment (more below) and the lack of most awards show type moments. Moreover, nothing Steven Soderbergh and company attempted here actually made it feel like a film. Aside from shooting in HD, it was just an awards show, produced by people who seemed indifferent to awards shows.

Playing a Trivia Game more than halfway through – There’s always a moment of levity that can fall flat during the Oscars. This one, give or take Glenn Close dancing, did not work. It just felt like wasting time, which could otherwise have been spent, you know…showing clips of the nominated performances.

Butchering the In Memoriam segment – I always cry during the tributes to those we lost during awards shows. Somehow, Oscar fucked this up. The Academy Awards are usually the best at this, but the segment was so rushed, with the absolute wrong music, leading to indifference. What gives?

Moving Best Picture from the end – Here’s where I blew my top. I could forgive the other things on their own, but this? Nope. You messed with a tradition that works. And, for what? To manufacture extra emotion for a Boseman win in Best Actor that didn’t even happen. Serves them right. Not only did it take away the moment in the sun for Nomadland, it screwed with the excitement of who would win Best Actress. All around, this was a disaster of a decision.

What were your highs and lows for the 93rd Academy Awards? Let us know!

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  1. Totally agree Joey with the In Memoriam section being the biggest letdown for me apart from the moving of Best Picture travesty. First I thought Angela Bassett’s introduction to it went on far too long and in an attempt to bring gravitas to the moment I felt she came across as an actor acting very obviously. Then so many of the names whizzed by I couldn’t keep up. It was shameful and disrespectful.

  2. Yep we’re on the same page. I’m one that looks forward to this night so too long is never my complaint. I normally don’t have many complaints actually. Some things work and some don’t and it is what it is. This night had too many moments where I was flat out stunned by what they did, in a bad way which made it hard to enjoy the night. The trivia that late in the night when even a casual movie fan like my girlfriend knew what the remaining awards were was just weird. The best picture placement was confusing. I thought maybe something screwy happened with the dvr even though we were caught up by then. One of the best parts of the oscars has always been celebrating film and it’s nominees, and they always did this with great drawn out introductions to the nominees that includes some sort of clips, playing a few notes of scores etc. Lacking that was a horrible choice. And what they did with the In Memoriam was an unforgivable choice. I literally couldn’t read the name and look at the picture in time before they quickly moved on to the next one. Give me a scene, give me a movie that the writer or dp worked on that passed. And doing that shortly after what everybody looked at was wasted time in the trivia was just really poor. I couldn’t imagine a way for them to make it so it would be impossible to get choked up during that segment but they pulled it off. Too many wtf moments amongst great winners and for the the most part great speeches. A shame.

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Written by Joey Magidson

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