Washington Post,"The Academy Awards showed off some newfound diversity among its nominees and some pandemic-era innovation
during Sunday’s telecast, in what amounted to the most unusual Oscars ceremony in the 93-year history of the event.
On a night when best director and best picture went to Chloé Zhao for her film “Nomadland,” the event highlighted an
unprecedented number of films produced by and starring people of color. The sponsoring Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences also sought to reimagine the annual TV show — threatened by years of declining audiences — to
avoid the Zoom-induced chilliness and technical glitches that have cratered the ratings of other live award programs
for the past year.
In deference to the coronavirus pandemic, the ceremony on ABC was moved back a few months from its usual dead-ofwinter start. It emanated from two locations, primarily Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and the sparsely
populated Dolby Theater in Hollywood. The in-person audience at the train station was restricted to 170 people.
To avoid airing remote feeds of nominees on their couches at home, Hollywood’s elite gathered at about a dozen
camera locations around the world, sans masks (at least while on camera) and after a regimen of temperature checks
and coronavirus tests.
The three-hour-plus telecast, which once again had no host, began in unusual fashion: with a long, over-the-shoulder
tracking shot of first presenter Regina King strolling through the Beaux-Arts train station to a small stage, as if in a
It was, by design, a more modest, looser and more intimate ceremony, evoking the early, pre-television days of the
Oscars, when the film industry’s most glamorous and powerful figures met in a hotel ballroom.
Nominees and their guests sat in tiered blue banquettes at tables with lamps outfitted with Oscar-silhouetted
lampshades. Presenters, including Brad Pitt and Reese Witherspoon, introduced each nominee with a short anecdote
about their first job in the industry or the first movie they saw. Best supporting actress nominee Glenn Close briefly
danced to “Da Butt.”
But Hollywood’s annual celebration of itself was still freighted by the realities of a global contagion. The closure of
movie theaters worldwide meant that almost all of the nominated films were available only on TV via streaming
services. And the movies themselves may have been the least familiar to the audience at home. Only 18 percent of
people who described themselves as “active” film watchers said in a survey last month that they were aware of “Mank,”
a Netflix film that received 10 nominations, the most among the contenders. Even the best-known movie, “Judas and
the Black Messiah,” registered just 46 percent awareness.
Some six years after the #OscarsSoWhite protests about the dearth of non-White nominees (and a year after the
Korean cast of best picture winner “Parasite” was ignored), the academy embraced Black, Asian and female talent as
Two of the five nominated directors were women, compared with five total in the preceding 92 years.
Zhao, born and raised in China, was the first woman of Asian descent to win the award, and only the second woman of
any background. (Kathryn Bigelow won in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker.”) Zhao also wrote, produced and edited
“Nomadland,” about a woman (played by Frances McDormand, winner of the best actress award) who wanders the
American West in a van in search of work and companionship after the closure of a mine and factory in her hometown.
The film portrays the economic upheaval and social dislocation — unemployment, broken marriages, lost pensions,
collapsing home values — that mark the lives of an itinerant class. It features some of the people in the nonfiction book
on which the movie is based.
McDormand’s win for best actress marked a three-peat: She also won for “Fargo” in 1997 and “Three Billboards
Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in 2018.
Another much-laureled actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins, won best actor for his portrayal of an aging man struggling with
his memory in “The Father.” It was his second Oscar for best actor, after his award for 1992’s “Silence of the Lambs.”
His win was a mild surprise. The late Chadwick Boseman, nominated posthumously for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,”
was the sentimental favorite.
Black actors were represented among all of the major acting categories, including two of the five best actress and three
of the five best supporting actor nominees.
The winner for best supporting actor was Daniel Kaluuya, who played Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in “Judas.”
Kaluuya was the favorite for the award after winning the Golden Globe in February for his performance.
As if addressing the snub of “Parasite’s” actors, the best supporting actress award went to Yuh-jung Youn, a veteran
South Korean actress who played the feisty grandmother in “Minari,” a best picture nominee about a Korean family
that moves from California to Arkansas to start a farm.
And for the first time, one of the best picture nominees, “Judas,” had an all-Black filmmaking team — writing,
producing, directing — and African Americans in starring roles.
Despite “Nomadland’s” sweep of the director, best actress and best picture awards, no film truly dominated the
ceremony. “Mank,” which had 10 nominations, left with only two, for cinematography and production design.
One element of the telecast was familiar: Short speeches touching on contemporary issues. King, who directed “One
Night in Miami,” was one of several presenters and winners who decried police shootings and gun violence. She cast
her comments in terms of her fears for her African American child. “No amount of fame or fortune changes that”
concern, she said.
The Oscars telecast, once a major cultural event and TV ratings success, has been in marked decline over the past two
decades, and especially in recent years. The viewing audience fell by 44 percent between 2014 and last year, when the
broadcast averaged 23.6 million viewers, its lowest figure ever. Notably, the Oscars last year were staged just before the
onset of the pandemic, which has scrambled viewing habits"
WSJ,"ABC's broadcast of the Academy Awards show Sunday night drew 9.85 million viewers, making it the least-watched Oscars ceremony on record.
The television audience for the 2021 Oscars dropped 58% from 23.6 million viewers for last year's show, which occurred weeks before the coronavirus pandemic halted live events and spurred stay-at-home orders across the country, according to Nielsen data released Monday to the Walt Disney Co.-owned network.
While the Oscars has seen its ratings fall precipitously over the years, awards shows during the pandemic have been especially challenged in attracting viewers. Viewership for the Golden Globes, the largely virtual live telecast on NBC in early March, dropped more than 62% from a year earlier to 6.9 million.
This year's Oscars was telecast from the Union Station in Los Angeles, with some parts of the show filmed at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, where the 93-year-old awards event is normally held. The venue was selected with the intent of preventing the Oscars -- a typically crowded ceremony -- from becoming a super-spreader event.
Broadcasting the Oscars isn't cheap for ABC. The annual rights fee is more than $100 million, the costliest among awards shows, people familiar with the matter said. This year, given the circumstances surrounding the broadcast, the network was able to negotiate a lower fee with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, another person familiar with the matter said. A spokeswoman for the academy declined to comment on its contract with ABC.
The dramatic drop in ratings may be a cause of concern for advertisers. This year, ABC was seeking as much as $2 million for a 30-second spot in the show, people with knowledge of the show said.
For the third year in a row, the show went without a host, and this year musical performances were bumped from the main ceremony. There was also no orchestra to play off award winners during their speeches -- which are often known to go on too long. Sunday night was no exception.
The slate of nominees were led by films that appeared mostly on streaming services as theaters across the U.S. remained closed throughout much of 2020 due to Covid-19.
The night's big winner, ""Nomadland,"" the film from Disney-owned specialty studio Searchlight Pictures, was released on Hulu as well in theaters. ""Nomadland"" picked up top awards such as best picture and best actress, as well as the best director category.
Chloe Zhao, the director of ""Nomadland,"" became the second woman, as well as the first Asian woman, to win the award.
Anthony Hopkins won the best actor award for his role in ""The Father."" Mr. Hopkins's win surprised many who expected the late actor Chadwick Boseman to receive the award posthumously after winning a Golden Globe for his performance in ""Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."" The producers had even flipped the order of awards, ending with best actor instead of the usual best picture.
Instead, Mr. Hopkins won, but he wasn't at the ceremony to accept his award."
Daily Mail,"t's supposed to be Hollywood's glitziest night. But tomorrow's Academy Awards will have just a handful of guests, no champagne or parties — and the worthiest films imaginable
THE 93rd Academy Awards tomorrow night — with crowds of A-listers making their way up the red carpet in the late afternoon Los Angeles sunshine and then celebrating late into the night at the iconic Vanity Fair party — would usually be expected to provide a much-needed shot of glamour for the world.
But this Sunday's Oscars might as well be renamed the Odd-scars.
For what is planned is a paredback, part-virtual version of the ceremony in three different countries, with partying banned and a distinctly dour selection of nominated films to boot.
Factor in a frazzling time-zone difference — the ceremony starts at 5pm on Sunday U.S. time so it will be after 1am on Monday in the UK before a single envelope is opened — and you have a recipe for a £29 million night which may make history for all the wrong reasons, as ALISON BOSHOFF explains
TIMED TICKETS AND TRIPLE COVID TESTS THE producers are urging nominees to show up at the LA ceremony which they are calling 'an intimate, in-person event' — nothing like the famously effervescent atmosphere which usually results from 3,700 of Hollywood's finest rubbing shoulders. This year, it is just the presenters plus nominees and a single guest each.
As is traditional, last year's winners will be returning to present the prizes this year — meaning Brad Pitt, Laura Dern, Renee Zellweger, Joaquin Phoenix and Parasite director Bong Joon Ho will be at the LA ceremony. Other presenters include Halle Berry, Harrison Ford and Reese Witherspoon.
The audience capacity will be capped to 170, with those in the crowd suffering the indignity of being rotated in and out of the ceremony at Union Station to maintain social distancing.
Because the awards are being treated as a TV or film production, actors do not have to wear masks when on camera, but must take at least three Covid tests in the days leading up to the ceremony.
As for guests at the two satellite locations, in London and Paris, these poor souls will endure the night without as much as a glass of champagne to sustain them.
At the London hub, the British Film Institute on South Bank, only a handful of stars — Emerald Fennell,
Vanessa Kirby and Olivia Colman — are expected to attend.
THE TEENY-TINY RED CARPET WALK THE Oscars red carpet — generally thought of as the most influential catwalk in the world — will be 'teeny tiny' according to organisers with only three photographers and three film crews allowed.
However, they are anxious that sartorial standards should not slip. In an email to attendees, they say they are 'aiming for a fusion of Inspirational and Aspirational,' adding: 'Formal is totally cool ... but casual is really not.'
NO AIR-KISSING, DARLINGS! CELEBRATIONS will be onlineonly. A virtual 'Night Before' party will feature performances by singer Macy Gray and songwriter and nominee Diane Warren, plus a special appearance by Gary Oldman. Chanel usually throws a pre-party at the Beverly Hills Polo Lounge, but this has been cancelled and they've sent out gift boxes to 150 VIPs instead.
There is no Vanity Fair party. Instead, there have been three nights of virtual events, which included game shows and interviews with Glenn Close, Sacha
Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried and Laura Dern. Some proceeds from ticket sales went to charity.
Sir Elton John generally throws a viewing party, which last year raised $6.4 million for his Aids charity. This year it's all virtual, and Elton — who gamely plugged the event on TikTok — hopes it will raise $8 million.
ROLL UP FOR PANDEMIC POPCORN THIS year's awards have been re-imagined by director Steven Soderbergh, who says he is shooting the event 'like a movie' and has been editing together interviews with all the nominees reflecting on their lockdown year. It doesn't sound like a sparkling way to pass three hours.
Soderbergh, who won a Best Director Oscar for Traffic in 2001, made the film Contagion about a pandemic. Perhaps someone at the Academy has a sense of humour!
YEAR OF THE MISERY MOVIE AFTER years of the Oscars highlighting the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the Academy has changed tack in 2021.
Certainly, many of the films in conten- tion — Nomadland, Minari, Promising Young Woman, The Father and Sound Of Metal — are troubling, with themes including starvation, rape, dislocation and disability.
Critics have accused the Academy of pandering to a fashionably woke agenda and TV executives are bracing themselves for disastrous viewing figures after this year's Golden Globes and Grammys both dropped more than 50 per cent.
BAD NEWS FOR BUSINESSES THE unusual Oscars have hit the pockets of many businesses, which would usually make a mint from movie studios and their Oscar campaigns. Events organisers, florists, caterers and limo chauffeurs have all suffered from the scaling back of festivities.
The demand by organisers that all nominees should attend the LA event if they can has also cost studios dear, because they have had to stump up for their flights and accommodation, including time in quarantine.
Not to mention the fact the Oscars themselves are at risk of losing money or even ending up bust.
Low viewing figures and high expenses are a recipe for financial disaster, and last year's Oscars were watched by just 23.6 million — the lowest on record.
THE STAR WHO'S A SHOO-IN THE pundits unanimously agree that British actor Daniel Kaluuya, 32, will be named Best Supporting Actor on Sunday night. Variety magazine said: 'Daniel Kaluuya is the only assured acting winner. No person in modern history has lost the Oscar after winning all the televised award shows.'
He is understood to be attending the ceremony in LA, where he lives with film producer Amandla Crichlow. He's nominated for his performance in Judas And The Black Messiah, a film about the Black Panther Party activist Fred Hampton who was betrayed by an FBI informant.
Other Brits in contention are Sacha Baron Cohen, nominated as Best Supporting Actor for his turn as civil rights activist Abbie Hoffman in The Trial Of The Chicago 7.
Wembley-born Riz Ahmed is nominated as Best Actor for Sound Of Metal, and fellow Londoner Gary Oldman for Mank.
WILL SIR TONY ZOOM IN THIS TIME? VETERAN actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, 83, provided two big surprises at the
Baftas last weekend — first by being named best actor for The Father, and second by not turning up on Zoom.
The organisers had assumed it wasn't possible to have a no-show on Zoom, but Hopkins later explained he had been painting in his hotel room, and had lost track of time.
On Sunday, he will be in Wales, where he is holidaying with wife Stella, and will appear via a satellite link.
PARTY GIFTS WITH BAGS OF VIRTUE
THE Oscars may have gone woke, but it's not all hair shirts. There will still be party bags for nominees, worth about £250,000 each.
In this year's will be a mixture of the practical and bizarre. They include: acupuncture sessions, a GPS for pets, three nights at a lighthouse in Sweden, a hammer to break out dogs left in hot cars, lifestyle guidance for a year, a treatment at a cosmetic surgery clinic, digital artwork, at-home vitamin infusion, a 'Happiness planner' journal, 'molecular hydrogen' water, vegan trainers and 'intimate hemp oil'.
AND THE VENUE IS ... A RAILWAY STATION ALTHOUGH this is the fourth time the Oscars have been postponed — previous reasons include the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King in 1968, LA flooding in 1938 and the attempt on the life of President Ronald Reagan in 1981 — it's the first time it's been held at a railway station.
The ceremony will be staged outdoors in a courtyard at Union Station in Los Angeles. Although it will be lavishly decorated, it's a far cry from Tinseltown's Dolby Theatre, which has hosted the awards since 2002.
PROMISING YOUNG BRITS TWO of the five Best Actress nominees are Brits: Carey Mulligan for Promising Young Woman and Vanessa Kirby for Pieces Of A Woman.
Both have been invited to be at the BFI along with one guest each. Joining them will be Olivia Colman, nominated as Best Supporting Actress in The Father, and triple nominee Emerald Fennell, who wrote and directed Promising Young Woman."