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The Highlights and Lowlights of the 94th Academy Awards

As we continue to look back on the 94th Academy Awards, today brings us to the show’s highs and lows. As with an Oscar ceremony, there were both, even if the former seemed to be in shorter supply than usual. Usually, a lot has to do with the hosts and what you thought of the winners. There’s some of that this year, especially if you were a thrilled fan of CODA or a disappointed fan of The Power of the Dog. Of course, much of the issues with this Academy Awards telecast were related to the presentation. So, I’m going to chime in now with my highlights and lowlights. Spoiler alert…there’s more of one than the other.

Below, you’ll see what I thought went right and what went wrong. As a reminder, you can see my take on the telecast itself (here), as well as our immediate podcast (here) on the show. The official full Awards Radar Podcast episode drops this morning, too, so keep an eye/ear out for that. Now, on to the latest piece!

Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from the 94th Academy Awards:


Troy Kotsur’s speech – The best speech of the night (Ariana DeBose‘s speech isn’t far behind) went to Best Supporting Actor winner Troy Kotsur. CODA went into the night knowing this was its likeliest win, but Kotsur still made it seem special. He gave the best speeches all season long, capping it off with a wonderfully moving one on Sunday night.

CODA winning Best Picture – Lost in the shuffle of everything that people hated about the show was how delightful it is to see something as lovely as CODA win Best Picture. Some folks obviously felt it was too small for the top prize, but in terms of emotions, few recent winners can match up to this heartwarming tale. For me, it’s one of the better recent winners and will rank notably when I do my annual list of the top winners of this Academy Award to date.

It somehow could have been worse – The fact that this actually is on the list shows how bare bones the Oscars were this year. I’ve already shared some of my issues, but the mere presence of this as a positive should be positively chilling…


Mishandling the non-live categories – We knew this was going to be a mess. I complained about it a while ago (here) and while maybe it could have been even more egregious, it still was bad. Almost to add insult to injury, the film that was most shortchanged by it all was Dune, one of the most widely seen Oscar contenders this year. What were they thinking?

Will Smith – This doesn’t deserve the attention it’s getting, since it’s an embarrassment and a tragedy. So, I’ll just reiterate that everyone involved, to one degree or another (Will Smith principally, of course), should be ashamed of themselves. No one got out unscathed from this shocking moment, to say the least, and there’s plenty of blame to go around.

The Academy Museum spot – This absolutely stunned me. I went to the museum earlier this month while I was in Los Angeles. It was wonderful. It made perfect sense to feature it during the Oscars. But to make a joke out of it? A total misfire that felt as out of place as anything else on this show. This just made me angry.

In Memoriam butchered again – I cried, but it was in spite of the shoddy execution. The tributes were nice, but the musical performances need to take a backseat to the dearly departed up on the screen. This should be one of the easiest moments to pull off during the Academy Awards. Instead, they bungled it yet again.

The way it barely felt like the Oscars – Whatever show this was, it didn’t really seem like the Academy Awards we all fell in love with. Maybe I’m getting old? Perhaps Oscar is just trying to find itself in the modern age. Whatever the case, this was not the type of ceremony that makes your heart full at the very thought of cinema.

What are your highlights and lowlights for theAcademy Awards? Let us know!


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Robert Hamer
1 year ago

The self-loathing was the ultimate lowlight for me. Seriously, Wanda Sykes cracking a joke about how “long and boring” their most-nominated film of the night was, as if the writers and producers felt they had to apologize to the audience for not nominating (the even longer movie by a full half-hour) Spider-Man: No Way Home, was just embarrassing to witness.

How the hell are you going to convince people to tune in to your awards show if you constantly tell people that the awards are honoring films that suck and no one wants to watch according to hosts?

Beyond what you’ve already covered (especially Troy Kotsur’s beautiful speech), one of my highlights, looking back at the whole thing, was how the Snyder Bros sabotaged that stupid online “Oscar Fan Fave / Cheer Moment” poll clearly designed as a backdoor promotion for Spider-Man: No Way Home and instead vaulted Army of the Dead and the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League to the top. Boss move, not even kidding. Not since Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf beat Leonardo DiCaprio in People‘s online “Most Beautiful Person” poll in 1998 have I seen such glorious defiance of attempted manufactured consent from the entertainment industry by a fan movement.


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