6 Noteworthy Moments And Highlights From Oscars 2021
The highlights, stories, and best moments from the 93rd Academy Awards celebrated last April 25 in Los Angeles, California
This is the first time in history when the Oscars was audience-less, host-less, and to be perfectly frank about it, there was less buzz about it too.
The awards ceremony may have digressed what it has traditionally been (read: a ton of glitz and glamour and only a peppering of social and cultural relevance), but what transpired at the private and socially distanced event was nothing short of watch-worthy. Diversity, originality, and inclusion were at the heart of the evening, many awards marking big wins for women and people of color.
Though physically scaled down, the 93rd Academy Awards—which was held last April 25 at the Union Station in Los Angeles, California—was scaled up in substance and intangible value; taking the place of all the magnificent gowns and sharp tuxedos (there were still some pretty great fashion moments though) were positive changes made in the selection of nominees and winners, expanding the reach of The Academy to include a much more varied take on judging the world of filmmaking.
Here are some highlights from the event. Read on:
Glenn Close still has not won any Oscars.
She's a Hollywood vet who began acting in films in the early 80s, and yet Glenn Close has always come out empty handed at the Academy Awards. She's been nominated a whopping eight times—four Best Actress nominations and another four for Best Supporting Actress for iconic films such as Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons and most recently Hillbilly Elegy—but she has zero Oscars to her name so far.
This year, she was up for a Best Supporting Actress award but she lost it to Minari's Youn Yuh-jung. Youn Yuh-jung proved to be a pretty formidable contender because of how she charmed audiences with her portrayal of a foul-mothed, rebel-hearted Korean grandma in the family drama Minari that depicted the classic American dream. Youn Yuh-jung was a win for racial diversity in Hollywood (she's the first-ever Korean to win an Oscar!), so that could still be an alright tradeoff for Glenn Close's loss.
Besides, she was captured dancing the night away, shaking her hips side to side, which goes to show that Oscar or no Oscar, Glenn Close still had a ball of a time!
Speaking of Youn Yuh-jung...
Yes, it's great that she won an Oscar, as it rides on the massive success that other Korean stars enjoyed at the Oscars last year. Everyone still remembers the emotional wins Bong Joon-ho and co. for Parasite, and this year, this winning streak of Korean crossover stars continues. Not that Youn Yuh-jung's light dims in comparison to last year's winners; she's every bit a charmer and a massively talented little 'ole lady.
But we mention her here for another reason. She was a joker onstage when she came up and accepted her speech, directly addressing Brad Pitt who presented the nominees for Best Supporting Actress. She began her speech by saying, "Mr. Brad Pitt, finally. Nice to meet you! Where were you when we were filming in Tulsa? I am very honored to meet you." The socially distanced audience loved it.
She went on to joke about how she's forgiven her non-Korean counterparts for mispronouncing her name, how she needed to get herself together because she was flustered, and how it was totally surreal that she was on the Oscars stage this year when all her life, it was just something she used to watch on TV back home. Her acceptance speech was essentially a mini stand-up comedy performance.
Everyone adored her.
Frances McDormand is still the best speech giver, ever.
Frances McDormand isn't like other actresses, and that's great. It's one of the best things about her. She's a Hollywood outlier and she knows it, which is why it's extra awesome that this year marked her fourth time to receive an Oscar. She picked up the statuette for Best Actress in Nomadland, also the Best Picture winner if we might add, and the acceptance speeches she delivered for her own award and that she shared with her co-stars and director were everything.
She talked about the power of film in the context of the current global health crisis and how we all must continue to dream of one day heading back to theaters, sitting side by side with people in the dark, to watch a film that tells a story that speaks to us like nothing else can.
There's also the fact that she showed up with a bare face and quoted Macbeth in one of her speeches, and then howled at sky. The lesson? Be authentic, be yourself, just like Frances.
Chloé Zhao makes Oscars history.
Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao directed Nomadland and then won Best Picture for her work. That's important for three reasons: first, she was nominated alongside Emerald Fennell, also a female director who got a nod from The Academy for Promising Young Woman, and it was the first time in all of Oscars history when two women were nominated for the Best Picture category at the same time.
Second, she's the first female director of Asian descent to bag the award.
Third, it's been an entire decade since Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It just goes to show everyone the disparity between female and male filmmakers that manage to make it to the major categories of awards shows such as this. Chloé Zhao didn't just win for herself, but represented so much more for women and Asians in Hollywood.
Don't forget to watch her acceptance speech; she talks about finding goodness in others and shows pride in her Chinese heritage.
Riz Ahmed also scores big for the Muslim community.
It seems unusual to pair the things "Muslim community," "good news" and "Hollywood" in one thought, but that's the thing—it shouldn't be.
Which is why it's incredibly applause-worthy that Riz Ahmed, a Muslim and also a Hollywood actor, was nominated for the award for Best Actor (for Sound of Metal) in a major American entertainment awards ceremony. He became the first Muslim with this recognition. This award also marks a significant cultural milestone, rather than just a plus in Riz Ahmed's acting CV.
It's great to see talents of different backgrounds (remember when #OscarsSoWhite was a thing not too long ago?) take their place at the Oscars stage; the art of and passion for filmmaking is shared by all people, no one should be deprived of the opportunity to be recognized on an international stage because of prejudice and outright hate.
Regina King talks politics, but also pokes fun at her social justice warrior-ing.
Regina King: "I have to be honest: If things had gone differently this past week in Minneapolis, I might have traded in my heels for marching boots." https://t.co/PF9E3EDPpR #Oscars pic.twitter.com/W16RkGpiwD— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) April 26, 2021
Regina King has always been vocal about political issues, especially those concerning African-Americans. She doesn't shy away from speaking her mind when she's given a stage to do so, and the Oscars was no different. This time though, she shone a little humor onto herself, but it didn't dilute her point.
Making a reference to Derek Chauvin (the policeman who infamously knelt on George Floyd's neck and eventually caused him to suffocate and die) being convicted of murder just a few days ago, she said, "We are mourning the loss of so many, and I have to be honest, if things had gone differently this past week in Minneapolis I might have traded in my heels for marching boots."
It was serious issue, but she continued on by adding, "Now, I know that a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you, but as the mother of a black son I know the fear that so many live with, and no amount of fame or fortune changes that."
Lead photos from @theacademy @vanityfair @iamreginaking