93rd Academy Awards Recap

So I know the Oscars are never a ‘fun’ show to watch. They’re always overlong and tedious and full of bad jokes and filler. But man, this year just felt so tedious, the way they did it. Which is weird, because I was into Soderbergh being one of the producers and loved how they set it up at the beginning. It started off so relaxed and seemed like it was gonna be something different and fun. Everyone hanging out at a cocktail hour beforehand outside and then going into that room and trying to do a different type of ceremony…

Then we had those overlong presenter intros that took way too long and didn’t translate as well in person as they maybe seemed when they thought them up. And then it felt almost like they were rushing through stuff rather than focusing on the right parts of the night. Somehow they avoided filler until right near the end, when they did that one bit with Glenn Close (which I didn’t hate, just because I know they have to do stuff to go viral nowadays, but you’d think they’d have done it an hour earlier, and not when we were all looking at the time like, “Okay, let’s wrap this up, guys”).

And then there was that ending, where you had three hours of Black presenters and Black winners and Black music, and an Asian woman winning and all sorts of diversity… and then the two older white people won to end the night. Honestly, how fitting. How ironically fitting, the Academy trying to go, “Look at us! We’ve changed!” and then the older white contingency still going, “…not so fast.”

It was the absolute perfect unintentional metaphor to end that ceremony, especially after you take into account how truly meaningless a lot of this is anyway.

Best Picture: Nomadland

This was a no-brainer all season and there’s not really much to say about it. You can feel however you want to about it as a choice, but it was going to be the choice, so outside of personal opinion, there’s really nothing to discuss.

Though I do find it interesting that they put this on third-to-last. Most people assumed it’s because they figured Chadwick might win Actor and wanted that to be the end, but when it happened my first thought was “Oh, they put it right at the top of the hour at 11 because they knew that’s when people would switch over if they weren’t watching just to see what would win.” I thought it was a savvy move for ratings. Though I guess a lot of people stream now instead of watch via cable, so maybe it’s the Chadwick thing. Which just hugely backfired for them. Either way, this was the winner all along, so now going forward all we can do is decide whether or not we think it’s a good choice.

Also, having Rita Moreno announce it was an A+ decision.


Best Director: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

This was another no-brainer. Honestly a great choice, just having a Chinese woman win, or just a woman in general win. I can’t feel bad about this whatsoever. Sure, I love Mank and love David Fincher, but I can live with him losing this to her (that Tom Hooper year, we can talk about). This award did way more good than it did bad, and she gave one of the best speeches of the night (for those counting, the five best speeches of the night were, in no particular order, this one, the Two Distant Strangers guys (who came on right after hers), Tyler Perry, Youn Yuh-jung and the Makeup & Hairstyling winners). All around a good result.


Best Actor: Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Look — there are only two posthumous acting winners ever, so this is not the most surprising result ever. It’s just how they structured it that made it so jarring.

This wouldn’t have been so surprising if they didn’t make it the final award of the night. You kinda saw the support there when he won BAFTA, and I guess what happened was they decided ‘Chadwick’s dead, so why should we vote for him?’ I don’t even want to consider the possibility of a reactionary response for racial reasons, so let’s go with the not wanting to do the posthumous thing. I guess you could say they really loved Anthony Hopkins, but it just doesn’t look good the way they set that up, with the In Memoriam and him being last and then having it be the last award of the night and then Hopkins not even being there. Oh boy. You didn’t even have the ‘oh, but look at how happy Anthony Hopkins is’ to make up for it.

That win felt a lot like the ‘news dump on a Friday’ move people make when they want to try to minimize blowback on a story. I know they don’t know the winners before they book the show, but damn. That was a bad look. Especially when the show ran 20 minutes over (though shout out to Soderbergh for tweeting a picture of his monitor showing how far they were over during the show. That was the best).

But, aside from how it came across in the moment, I love Anthony Hopkins and I’m thrilled for him. Did he need it? Absolutely not. But he has it. I feel the same way about this as I’d have felt if Glenn Close won. Don’t necessarily love it as a choice, but I love the actor and I’m happy they have an Oscar. Or, in Hopkins’ case, another Oscar.


Best Actress: Frances McDormand, Nomadland

This one… I mean, I have more questions than answers. But okay. This was the only category I was really invested in and really wanted to see Carey Mulligan win. And so now I can feel as though she’s gotten robbed twice (first to Sandra Bullock and now this year, not to mention the nomination snubs for Shame and Llewyn Davis). I’d honestly have preferred Viola to Frances, just because at least then she’d have gotten her Best Actress win. Wouldn’t have loved that either, but at least she’d have gotten it. But hey, Frances has three now. Good for her. What else can you say?


Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

This was a gimme all throughout the season and I’m glad he’s now won. Speech went on about a minute too long, but who cares. He’s an Oscar winner for a deserving performance and I’m really excited to see what sort of stuff he does going forward.


Best Supporting Actress: Youn Yuh-jung, Minari

Glad she won. Most of these nominees would’ve been good winners. Close would’ve been good because she’d have gotten one (and then would’ve been the first person to twerk on camera after winning an Oscar. You’d think either Judi Dench or Waldo Salt would’ve been the first, but no), even despite the film being what it was. Maria Bakalova would’ve been a great story, even if the performance might not have looked so great historically. But Youn is cool because she’s the first Korean person to win an acting Oscar and shines a light on those actors who just always put in solid work that rarely get noticed for it. It’s a good win all around. Plus the speech was fun. Hard to be mad about this one.


Best Original Screenplay: Promising Young Woman

This was the first award of the night (feels so long ago). And it was one of the most obvious choices. So, not really a whole lot to say here. Good choice, good win, glad for her and Sorkin already has one so a second wouldn’t have done a whole lot for his legacy. I have zero issue with this.


Best Adapted Screenplay: The Father

This was sort of an assumed winner by the time the ceremony aired. I almost went in and switched this to my choice yesterday morning and thought, “That’s too much work and I don’t really care. Second, first, whatever.” And so that’s how that happened. You knew it was one or the other, but as we got closer this started to make the most sense. So it won and now with the Hopkins win it doubly makes sense. You see the support for it. So sure. Most people don’t really remember Screenplay winners, so it’s hard to find that much fault with this. The analysis was spot on — it was one or the other. And the tiebreaker likely ended up being the use of non-actors/documentary feel in Nomadland and the fact that they knew Zhao was gonna win Picture and Director and thought ‘let’s give it to someone else’. Makes sense.


Best Editing: Sound of Metal

Kind of an obvious choice, though being one of the later awards they handed out, you definitely got the sense that it wasn’t a sure thing when they were ready to announce it (and I think this was the Harrison Ford category too. He was fun. My friends and I were guessing how much of his stuff was him being high as balls and how much was just him. I went with 4/10 high and the rest was just him. I think it would have been more than 4 had he presented an hour earlier). But yeah. By this point you knew Nomadland wasn’t gonna fare well here, having lost Screenplay and Cinematography. So it came down to this or Sorkin. And Sorkin’s film was shut out the rest of the way, so I’m not sure why you’d have assumed it was just gonna win here. This made the most sense and is a solid winner. Not the most memorable category ever, but something you can look back on and go, “Yeah, that makes sense,” which honestly is half the battle with these awards anyway.


Best Cinematography: Mank

Minor surprise on the night, even if it was a clear second choice. Honestly one of those where — of course the black-and-white film won. Honestly figured they’d go for Nomadland here. This is such a… throwback choice for them. But it’s cool. I love it as a choice and I think it’ll hold up as a great winner. Also gets Mank a second win, which ties it with like everything else with two wins too. There was a lot of 2 win bunching going on this year, which I guess I’ll talk about at the end.


Best Original Score: Soul

This was a gimme all throughout the season and it was a great choice. Funny to see them have Reznor and Ross nominated twice and then have to announce them, then pan away and then come back to be like, “Them again… plus this dude!” But this was the best score of the year and this deserved to win. I wasn’t so invested in what won or lost most categories, but seeing this win did make me happy.


Best Original Song: “Fight for You,” from Judas and the Black Messiah

Good for H.E.R.

(Hold for applause.)

Had the late stuff gone according to what we figured, this would’ve been the surprise of the night. Instead this just goes down as ‘oh yeah, that too’. But even then, that’s only based on how things went leading up to this. The one thing I noticed that really played out in voting was a definite reaction against Ma Rainey and One Night in Miami, which really we should’ve seen coming when both were left out of the Best Picture race. You’d think that could be a race thing, but Judas and the Black Messiah won this, so clearly it was a quality thing with those other two. Which I understand, since I wasn’t necessarily over the moon about those two being Best Picture nominees over other stuff either even though I’d have been fine with either or both making it on. I’m not surprised Diane Warren didn’t win, but I am a little surprised they completely went away from Leslie Odom. I guess they just really wanted to vote for this movie somewhere else, which I can’t really get upset with. Plus H.E.R. is super talented, so I’m thrilled for… h.e.r. (I’ll stop after that one). It’s Song, so without a clear ‘how could you vote against that’ choice, I’m fine with whatever they decided they liked most. My only horse in this race was in guessing the category. And after this article (and even then), that doesn’t matter anymore. So I’m totally cool with this.


Best Production Design: Mank

This was Mank’s one definitive win on the night. Cinematography was the cherry on top. This was a gimme all along. So not much to say here because it was so obviously the choice.

Though I guess this does make three wins in six years for the city of Los Angeles in this category, and two years in a row. The Academy definitely has a type.


Best Costume Design: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Ma Rainey was guaranteed these two categories here, so no surprises at all. The question was always gonna be in the acting categories. Costumes was locked all the way through and the only question was ‘will they go in for the frills of Emma?’ And the answers was no. Which the precursors told us. So no surprises and this was telegraphed all the way throughout the season.


Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Another one that was telegraphed all the way through. I still say Pinocchio should’ve won, but since it started trending when the nominees were announced that people went, “Wait, there was a Pinocchio movie???’, that confirmed what I figured all along, which is that no one even knew what that movie was and would default to this instead because they knew what they did to transform Viola. Pretty easy winner all around. And ultimately a fitting winner when you go to look back at this category historically, so while they didn’t do as well as they could’ve done in terms of putting forth the work, it’s a fine winner in all other regards.


Best Visual Effects: Tenet

No shit. If you asked me one category that I’d have to put down all my money on as the absolute lock of the night, this might’ve been the one I choice (this or Animated Feature). Nobody knew what two of the nominees were and half of the people didn’t even watch Mulan. This was the choice on reflex voting alone. “Oh, that’s Nolan, he does good effects.” Boom. Done. Absolutely no one anywhere should have gotten this one wrong.


Best Sound: Sound of Metal

Also one of the most obvious categories of the night and contender for biggest lock. It’s literally in the name. The minute you saw this had six overall nominations, you knew it was winning this. One of the best winners in the history of this category, for my money. Just one of those perfect situations. Though now this does mean we’re gonna have to go back to the drawing board next year and wonder what the hell will win this now-single category.


Best Animated Feature: Soul

No shit. Did anyone really think Pixar was losing this? It wasn’t winning another category and then losing here. I hope that eventually Tomm Moore gets enough cache that he can win one of these categories, but for now, Soul was the right choice. You can prefer Wolfwalkers to it, but this was a good choice. Sometimes weaker Pixar wins, but this isn’t one of those times.


Best International Feature: Another Round

This one came in early and was an easy winner. Vinterberg gave a nice speech and overall it was a nice moment. Nothing more to add. We knew it would win, it won, good for him, good for the film, we all should’ve gotten it right.


Best Documentary Feature: My Octopus Teacher

Doc Oct. You saw this one starting to take shape over the last month. Aside from feeling okay that I guessed it correctly I don’t really feel much else about this as a choice. I didn’t love the doc but 100% understand why they voted for it. It’s the most Hollywood story ever and they go for that sort of stuff. But I just could never get behind a doc that’s ostensibly about a dude rich enough to just go diving for a year who didn’t figure out how to show affection for his child until he bonded with a fucking sea creature. It’s the most narcissistic shit ever. And that’s why I’m not remotely surprised they voted for it. It also just looked so bad in the moment since all the other docs were about something, and then the winners just stood up there going on and on, which made me think of how much better all that time could’ve been used if people actually stood up there talking about a real issue. But hey, March of the Penguins 2 won, so there you have it.


Best Documentary Short: Colette

This is where I caught my 5. Thought it would be in the next category, but it was here. Didn’t think they’d go Holocaust. And funnily enough, I had this as my #3 until like two days ago. I originally had Concerto Is a Conversation at 5 just to say ‘fuck it. If they’re gonna do it, I’m gonna be as wrong as I can possibly be’, and then I caved and made it third because I started to truly think they might vote for it. So in my head, this wasn’t that bad a miss for me even though it’s gonna do hell for whatever that scorecard is gonna end up being (not that I really care). This fits for them, even if it is a bit outdated as an issue. But hey, they like to throw a Holocaust choice in once in a while. Sure. I just feel good knowing that the cynical choice didn’t come in because it wasn’t really about anything the way all the winners of this category are usually about something. So in all I feel very okay about this one. Plus Colette is a badass.


Best Live Action Short: Two Distant Strangers

All the noise and me worrying about anything winning… and the obvious choice won. So that’s nice. I’m also very happy for the two winners and think they gave one of the best speeches of the night. It’s the short with the most immediate social relevance and looks like a great winner. All five were good choices, quality-wise and honestly I think they went with the all-around best choice (and also I’m kinda glad the Oscar Isaac short didn’t win on his name alone).


Best Animated Short: If Anything Happens I Love You

This was the choice. I’m glad it won. It was the only thing that should’ve won and is gonna hold up as the best nominee in this category. One of the absolute best choices on the night and I’m glad they didn’t fuck it up.

– – – – – – – – – –

Here’s a breakdown of how everything did:

  • Nomadland — 3 Oscars (Picture, Director, Actress)
  • The Father — 2 Oscars (Actor, Adapted Screenplay)
  • Judas and the Black Messiah — 2 Oscars (Supporting Actor, Song)
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — 2 Oscars (Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling)
  • Mank — 2 Oscars (Cinematography, Production Design)
  • Soul — 2 Oscars (Score, Animated Feature)
  • Sound of Metal — 2 Oscars (Editing, Sound)
  • Minari — 1 Oscar (Supporting Actress)
  • Promising Young Woman — 1 Oscar (Original Screenplay)
  • Tenet — 1 Oscar (Visual Effects)

Other winners: Another Round, My Octopus Teacher, Colette, Two Distant Strangers, If Anything Happens I Love You

7 out of 8 Best Picture nominees won awards. Only Trial of the Chicago 7 went home empty-handed. Which is kinda funny when you think about it, given how the lasting impression of this ceremony was ‘boring old white people shit’. Makes you realize last year was the exception and not the rule, as great as last year felt. But hey, at least they spread the wealth.

– – – – –

Scorecard Tally:

I got 17/23 straight up, which is about the norm. Usually I’m in the 17-20 range most years.

Scores-wise, I know I did terrible because I caught a few 4s and a 5.

  • Best Picture: +1
  • Best Director: +1
  • Best Actor: +2
  • Best Actress: +4
  • Best Supporting Actor: +1
  • Best Supporting Actress: +1
  • Best Original Screenplay: +1
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: +2
  • Best Editing: +1
  • Best Cinematography: +2
  • Best Original Score: +1
  • Best Orignal Song: +4
  • Best Production Design: +1
  • Best Costume Design: +1
  • Best Makeup & Hairstyling: +1
  • Best Visual Effects: +1
  • Best Sound: +1
  • Best Animated Feature: +1
  • Best Foreign Language Film: +1
  • Best Documentary Feature: +1
  • Best Documentary Short: +5
  • Best Live-Action Short: +1
  • Best Animated Short: +1

That comes out to 36 which is a +13. And all the damage was in 3 categories.

I caught my 5, but not in the category I was expecting, and caught two 4s too. That’s what did it. Ah well, shit happens. I didn’t expect McDormand to come in like that (and deliberately moved her to fourth knowing this could happen). Song I can live with. Doc Short I can also live with since I got Live Action Short right. I don’t regret any of my choices here. Aside from the deliberate move off McDormand third the only thing I think I messed up on was not playing the hunch of them really liking Judas and the Black Messiah enough to possibly vote it for Song. But again, even getting that wrong, Frances and then that last-minute swap of Doc Short moved me from +10 to +13. So knowing that I was still in the same range aside from one ‘fuck it’ move and one scared move… I’m fine with that. You should never expect to be that close every single year. It’s an unremarkable year and I’m glad it’s over.

So yeah, that’s 2020.

And before I go, let me note that my Oscar trivia article is there and is updated with all the new winners from this year.

– – – – – – – – – –


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