Monday, April 26, 2021

2021 OSCARS POST-MORTEM: "NOMADLAND" holds serves even if the show itself fall off hard at the end.


Well, that started off well.... It didn't end that way.

It always funny how the buildup to the Oscars is always about are predictions and who's gonna win, and then the aftereffects always end up being a discussion of the broadcast itself. Steven Soderbergh promised a more cinematic production and it was. It opened with a Godard-esque long tracking shot of Regina King bringing the Oscar from the Red Carpet, through the Union Station all the way to the Academy podium with some more cinematic opening credits and frame rate. That was cool. 

In fact, most of the show, seemed like it was done in an unusual but cool way. It wasn't great, but for an alternative pandemic Oscars, it was reasonable. We had presenters in the audience so the winners walked up to the podium to get their Oscar waiting for them, that was cool. I liked the production design of the show, I liked the more intimate setting with the tables and chairs in the main room, with the on-location cameras for the other nominees who couldn't make it. It's not ideal obviously, but for a pandemic, I thought it was nice. It both formal in presentation but informal in its approach, all that stuff is great. 

And then, the last hour or so, was not. There were some strange errors and choices. The fact that the "In Memoriam" was way too fast. Like, I know there were a lot of deaths, but boy did it not leave room to grieve. I'm glad that they didn't bring in a performer this year, which I've never liked btw, but yeah, especially in a pandemic year where there were a bunch of deaths.... Yikes. 

Then there was that weird Lil Rel Howery section where he tried to play a music trivia game with movie songs that had both Andra Day and Daniel Kaluuya getting bleeped and poor Glenn Close...- Like I know, "Poor Gleen Close" is an exaggeration as all hell, she went along with it, she seemed very happy to play along, but she had just lost her eighth Oscar this year earlier in the night and while Yuh-Jung YOUN, lovingly got to fawn over Brad Pitt, Glenn got to do dance "Da Butt" dance to "Da Butt", which isn't even the best song from "School Daze", btw, "Be Alone Tonight" and "Straight and Nappy" are ways better songs from that movie, and if you don't want to see Glenn Close being apart of a musical performance troupe doing a production "Straight and Nappy" then I don't need you in my life. 

Yuh-Jung YOUNG's win marked the first time a Korean actress won an acting award and she's only the second Asian actress to win Supporting Actress btw, the first since Miyoshi Umeki won in 1959 for "Sayonara". It was "Minari"'s only win of the night which put it one ahead of "The Trial of the Chicago 7", the only Best Picture nominee that went home empty-handed.

Speaking of Best Picture, that came up next for some reason... Yeah, Best Picture was announced before Best Actor and Best Actress, which we're presuming Soderbergh decided figuring that Chadwick Boseman's victory was a foregone conclusion and wanted to end on a note for him... That was a bad idea in my mind, if it would've worked, but boy did it not work as both Lead Acting prizes went to upset wins. After "Nomadland" won Best Picture, and Frances McDormand gave a slight speech about seeing the film on the biggest screen possible, while showing an over-the-shoulder shot of somebody recording her speech on a camera phone.... Seriously, theaters and irony are now dead, I presume..., Frances McDormand then made history with her upset win for Best Actress. This makes her the 2nd woman ever to win Best Actress three times, with only Katharine Hepburn's four wins ahead of her. So much for BAFTA not mattering. 

Speaking of BAFTA being more of a foreshadowing then we thought, Chadwick Boseman lost to Anthony Hopkins, so the night ended on Joaquin Phoenix presenting a Best Actor Oscar to somebody who wasn't even there, literally or digitally, and it wasn't Chadwick Boseman.

(Deep Breath)


Soderbergh, I love ya, I liked a lot of what you did with this show, but this isn't pro wrestling, you don't know how it's gonna end. No, don't bu-bu-bu-but me, you don't know and you didn't know. Don't assume you know, don't assume you know. There's some variant in the format that you're reasonably allowed to play, but don't play with it, based on who you think is going to win. I know I predicted him too, even after he lost at BAFTA, and apparently Riz Ahmed after Riz Ahmed won at the Spirits, what the hell?! (Damn, I forgot the Spirt Awards this year; I knew I forgot something.) But still, this one's totally on you, and this isn't a pandemic issue so you had to adjust, this is a "You fucked up," issue. Remember, don't assume, 'cause when you assume, you make an Ass, out of u and me. 

(Also, sidenote: Spirit Awards, I don't when you got into television awards now, but get out of it. You didn't give "Small Axe" best Scripted Series??? Like, just stay out of it. I know independent television's a thing, but it really isn't, just stay out. Stay with what you know, or create a second award show to put these weird TV picks of yours on.)

Anyway, onto the awards proper, "Nomadland" won three Oscars, Picture, Actress and Director, Chloe Zhao becoming only the 2nd woman and first person of color to win the Oscar; I'm a little frightened that she thinks when things go wrong on a film set that she thinks about Werner Herzog in "Burden of Dreams" and imagining what he'd do is good advice.... That was-um, not my interpretation of that movie at all.... Quite the opposite actually. I mean, I love "Burden of Dreams" and I love Herzog but-um, I think that movie's a lot more of what not to do, but oh well.... Also McDormand became the first woman to win the Oscar for Producing and Starring in the same film, and Zhao is the first female director to win for a movie with a female lead character. Honestly, there aren't enough movie that have Best Picture with a main female singularly lead, in general, directed by women or men, so there you go. 

"The Father" took Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, Florian Zeller winning for adapted his own play and Christopher Hampton winning his first Writing Oscar since "Dangerous Liasions", been a long time for a well-established writing. 

It is a bit unfortunate that the two lead went to white people in this year with nine POC nominated in acting, but they did both win in the Supporting races. "Judas and the Black Messiah" overachieve by winning both for Daniel Kaluuya's Supporting Actor win and a surprise win for Best Original Song for "Fight for You" lead by H.E.R. I did get to see her performance of the song, and it's good song when performed. Also, while I did sleep through most of the Red carpet, sorry, but I do like that idea of having the songs performed before the show; that's something else that we can keep. 

Best Original Screenplay went to "Promising Young Woman", Emerald Fennell tried to talk about how she always thought if she ever won she's thank her husband Zach Morris... It didn't entirely work but I admired the attempt.

"Mank" despite having the most nominations won only two technical awards for Production Design and a bit of a surprise with for Erik Messerschmidt's Cinematography, even though Halle Berry with that eh, curious choice of hairstyle, mispronounced his name three or four times. Not sure...- I'm not why that bob of hers didn't work on her, but it didn't work on her. 

BTW, the best dressed of the night, although there was competition, was Viola Davis, loved that white and that all out hairstyle on her. (Also Leslie Odom, Jr., the best male dressed, the gold tuxedo was Muah, tres magnifique!)"Ma Rainey..." underperformed all award season, but despite the acting losses it did win for Costume Designer Ann Roth, who at 89 years old has become the oldest person to ever win an Oscar and also the oldest to win her first Oscar, which is hindsight is a bit ridiculous; I probably should've predicted her for that alone. The film also won is Makeup and Hairstyling, which made Mia Neal and Jameika Wilson the first African-American to ever be nominated and now win Oscars in Makeup and Sergio Lopez-Rivera, the first Hispanic nominee and winner in the category, he's a Spanish-born makeup artist.

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" wasn't up for Best Picture but "Sound of Metal" was and it earned wins, predictably in Best Sound, which was presented to them by Riz Ahmed, the star of the movie, and I gotta agree that that's almost always cringy a little, and it won for Best Film Editing.

"Soul" took home Best Animated Feature, no surprise there, and a second one for Best Original Score, again no surprise, the second Oscars for Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, putting them on a very short list of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers with two Oscars, along with Elton John and Randy Newman. And Jon Batiste, becomes only the third African American to win for Original Score, only the second in this category 'cause Prince won for Best Original Song Score, which is the Best Musical category that's technically still on the books, but there hasn't been enough eligible musicals for since Prince won it, so he's the only the second since Herbie Hancock won for "'Round Midnight" back in '86. And Terence Blanchard barely got a nomination this year, wth Academy. I would've sworn that at least Quincy Jones would've won in this category at some point, but I guess not.

"Another Round" won for Best International Film, and Thomas Vinterberg gave a long, but wonderful speech I might add, one of the best of the night, and "Tenet" won Best Visual Effects, they were the only feature films to win a singular award this year. This year, if they could give you a couple Oscars, they tried their damnedest to it seems. 

The documentary categories went to "My Octopus Teacher" a lovely nature documentary that should really be seen on the IMAX big screen for its full impact won. They've been picking the most cinematic documentaries in recent years, that's a new trend, that, I don't hate, but I don't know if I entirely like it all the time. I still seem to be the only one, for interest who thought "Free Solo" was only interesting if you liked mountain climbing and great cinematography, although I did like "My Octopus Teacher". (Maybe I like diving into the ocean and staring at wildlife better that climbing mountains) The Short Subject went to "Colette", so that trend of the documentary shorts going to the most Holocaust-related nominee continues.  

Animated Short film went to "If Anything Happens, I Love You", the Netflix animated short that's- I won't give it away other then it's depressing as fucking hell..., but it was a good year for Netflix again. None of their films broke into the major categories curiously enough for wins, but with four wins for "Ma Rainey..." and "Mank" combined and two in the short categories, they ended up with a pretty good haul as expected in this year of no movie theaters. They also won Live Action Short Film for "Two Different Strangers" the Groundhog Day-esque thriller about a black man trying not to get killed by a cop on his way home to feed his dog. I liked that one the best of the three short winners myself and writer/director Travon Free gave a good, powerful, political speech there. 

Well, the ten years that encompassed the 2020 Oscar Season is finally done with. It tried its best to end with a bang or a tear, and instead ended with a protruded fart, which unfortunately was probably appropriate for 2020 but we'll see what happens when a new and hopefully better normal comes approaching for next year's Oscars. One where as Regina King so elegantly put it, we again come in high heels and not in marching boots. Some things, we'll hopefully take away from this Pandemic-riddled Oscar season and incorporate more of in the next few years. Others, we hopefully will not and never will again, Soderbergh movie BP to before the Lead Acting Awards, let's not ever do that again, I hope we learn.... And already this next movie year looks promising from the "West Side Story" and "In the Heights" trailer previews we got during the broadcast, so that's a good sign so far. So here's not to the films that we've seen, ranked and awarded, argued and debated about from last year, here's to the great images of cinema that lay ahead for us to see, rank and award, and then argue and debate about and then criticized how bad the show was, for this upcoming year! 

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