Apr 30, 2021 | LIFE | By Andrew Rodden | Illustration Xixi Qin

The Oscars, for a long time, have not been good. In fact, they’ve been frustratingly in direct opposition to the artistry of cinema, instead injecting an artificial glamor into often manufactured works of art that only serve the interests of the broken-minded Hollywood elite.

The gulf between the now 10 million people watching (cliff jumping from near 30 million in 2014) and the most famous people on Earth will never shrink, and the relevancy of this event is clearly diminishing. With viewership down, one must wonder what’s next for the Oscars.

However, for once in many years, watching the ceremony didn’t make me cower into a shell of disgust, but rather, a bland indifference. The Stephen Soderberg-led production was colorful, the smaller venue visually interesting, and the relatively speedy three (and some change) hour runtime spared us the boring, cringe-inducing sludge that normally plagues the Oscars. With that said, here are (what I thought to be) the highlights of the 93rd Academy Awards.

Early in the show, Thomas Vinterberg accepted the Best International Feature award for “Another Round,” which is my personal favorite of 2020. I’m glad to see it garnered so much praise, even scoring Vinterberg a nomination for Best Director, though the movie not winning more awards is my biggest beef with the ceremony this year.

Later, Harrison Ford got on stage to present the award for Best Editing, which was given to Mikkel E. G. Nielsen, editor of “The Sound of Metal.” Ford shared some notes about early cuts of Ridley Scott’s 1982 film “Blade Runner” (in which Ford starred in) and spoke about how editing can make or break a movie. This type of movie-magic breakdown should be the main meat of the ceremony, and I was glad to have gotten a taste of it with Ford’s presentation.

For her performance in “Minari,” Yuh-Jung Youn took home the award for Best Supporting Actress, and gave the best speech of the night, one that was both heartfelt and tongue-in-cheek. I’m shocked she’s the first Korean actor to ever win an Oscar, considering Korea’s rich cinematic history, but with such a touching and comedic performance, it would’ve been a mistake to give it to any of the other nominees.

Francis McDormand won Best Actress for her role in “Nomadland,” which raked in a Best Director award for Chloe Zhao and a Best Picture award for the producers. But while Best Picture is usually saved for last, the programmers moved Best Actress and Best Actor to the end. Silly, right?

Word on the street is the Academy was setting the rotation up for Chadwick Boseman to posthumously receive the Best Actor award for his performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” wrapping up the show with a heartfelt finale. 

But with the results of the awards unknown by anyone but the judges prior to the event, this proved to be a losing gamble, because Anthony Hopkins won the award for his stellar performance in “The Father.” He didn’t even show up to the event, and we were left with a quick headshot of Hopkins, a rushed farewell from an indifferent Joaquin Phoenix, and an abrupt ending.

Fumbles like this make the Oscars worth watching; anything that deflates the self-importance of these Hollywood sickos is quite the treat. Regardless, Hopkins deserved the award for a truly heartbreaking performance, among the best he’s ever given, which is high praise for one of film’s greatest actors.

I hate the Oscars (don’t we all), but regardless of how mutated and mangled the ceremony gets, at the end of the day it’s a three-hour presentation about how awesome movies are. They at least give us a collective weekend to reflect on the best movies of the year, and if anything, hopefully the 2021 Academy Awards primed audiences to go back to the movie theaters this summer.

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