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Last Sunday saw the 2021 Oscars crown its winners. Whether you agree or disagree with the Academy’s decisions, and no matter what you think about the awards themselves, there’s always something to be learned. Here’s our take on this year’s Oscars…

  • NOMADLAND picked up Best Picture, an award it had been heavily tipped for. The film’s other wins were perhaps more notable though, with Chloe Zhao becoming only the second woman (and the first woman of colour) to win Best Director, and Frances McDormand picking up her third Best Actress in a Leading Role award, putting her behind only Katherine Hepburn for the most wins. Both of these wins are important milestones – the first for diversity, and the second for one of the best actresses currently working in film.
  • After controversy over a lack of diversity at the Oscars over the last few years and the #OscarsSoWhite movement, Zhao’s win is at the forefront of further change. With further wins for Daniel Kaluuya and Yuh-Jung Youn in Supporting Actor and Actress categories, as well as multiple awards for SOUL, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, and SOUND OF METAL among others, there’s no doubt that diversity is improving. There’s still more work to be done, though.
  • SOUL was the unsurprising winner of Best Animated Picture, but we actually preferred WOLFWALKERS (and it looks like we weren’t the only ones). It just goes to show that no matter how good your film is, it’s always going to be hard for a small studio like Cartoon Saloon to compete with the money, power, and fame of a bigger one like Pixar, which can run a campaign to help support its nomination.
  • Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was Anthony Hopkins winning Best Actor in a Leading Role for THE FATHER instead of Chadwick Boseman. It was a very worthy win for a great actor, but with Boseman sadly passing away last year, many had expected him to be the posthumous winner. Whatever the reasons, it made for an anticlimactic ending to the ceremony and made the decision to present the award last look foolish – especially as Hopkins wasn’t in attendance and wasn’t allowed to accept via Zoom!
  • Which brings us to the show itself, which… wasn’t great. Critical reviews were overwhelmingly negative and audience figures fell to an all-time low, with just 9.85 million people tuning in, a massive 58% drop from last year. Diversity might be improving at the Oscars, but they clearly need modernizing and refreshing in every other way too. The movie industry desperately needs to get audiences back into cinemas and remind them of the wonder of film – but frankly, this ceremony was more likely to put people off.

Can the Oscars really revolutionize themselves for next year? Hopefully, in a more normal year when movie theaters are open and people have had more chance to see the nominees, the ceremony will be better. The 2021 Oscars had many great winners; it’s a shame the show itself was a let-down.

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