The highs, lows and utter chaos of the 2021 Oscars

Overview of Oscar statues on display at "Meet the Oscars" at the Time Warner Center on February 25, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images) (Andrew H. Walker, 2010 Getty Images)

To quote a line from “WandaVision,” one of the best TV shows to come out this year: “This is chaos magic, Wanda.”

That’s exactly what this year’s Oscar ceremony was: chaos.

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It’s not entirely surprising, especially since movie theaters have barely existed since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and so few of us having even seen any of the films that were nominated this year.

While the Oscars were able to pull off a small scale version of the ceremony inside of a train station (no, seriously -- an actual train station), it obviously lacked the Oscar magic that so many of us are used to. The only stars present were the ones nominated, and without a host, the night was kind of boring.

Regardless, there were some good wins and speeches, so let’s break it all down.

HIGH: Regina King and her entrance. The show started with King making a grand entrance in the train station to reveal the pretty cool Oscar stage and nominees gathered around a social distanced tables. It would have been nice if King hosted for the rest of the night.

LOW: No host: Look, simply put, the Oscars suck without a host. There was no one checking in every so often to do funny bits and make fun of the celebrities in the audience. Please, for the love of everything that is good, have a host next year -- even if it is another small ceremony.

HIGH: The natural lighting in the train station. This is the first time we’ve ever seen an Oscar ceremony filmed in natural light, and it was kind of ... nice? It just had a totally different vibe, and we were digging it.

HIGH: Emerald Fennell wins Best Original Screenplay. The first award of the night went to none other than Fennell, who wrote and directed the superb “Promising Young Woman.” It was the first time a woman won the category since Diablo Cody did for “Juno.”

LOW: Long speeches. We’ve got three hours or more to go in this telecast -- can we please keep the speeches to a minimum?

HIGH: Daniel Kaluuya and his speech. Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor (which was totally expected), but what really made his win so great was his speech. His mother and sister were streamed live from London, and when Kaluuya thanked his parents for having sex and creating him, the look on Kaluuya’s mother’s face was hysterical.

LOW: No clips of actors acting in their movies. One of the best parts of the Oscars is seeing what clip from the movie is used after an actor’s name is read in their category. This year that didn’t happen, and instead, we got the presenter telling us why the actor love movies and acting. It was lame.

HIGH: Chloe Zhao won Best Director. Oscar history was made! Not only did Chloe Zhao become just the second woman to win best director, but she also became the first woman of color to do so. She directed the film “Nomadland,” and she totally deserved the award.

LOW: Animated movies nominees get clips shown. So we don’t get to see any clips of the actor nominees, but we get clips of the best animated movie nominees? What gives?

LOW: The octopus documentary. These filmmakers made a documentary about an octopus and then didn’t even thank it? No thanks!

HIGH: Yuh-Jung Youn. And the winner of best speech of the night goes to ... Youn! She won Best Supporting Actress for “Minari” and her speech was just so funny. She hit on Brad Pitt, made jokes, and you were genuinely happy she won, even if she beat professional Oscar loser Glenn Close.

LOW: Halle Berry’s hair. Someone help her, because that was not it.

LOW: Harrison Ford and his crinkly paper. While Ford shared a nice anecdote about film editing, it was overshadowed by him unfolding a paper that was picked up a little too well by the microphone.

HIGH: Questlove Oscar trivia. Questlove was spinning straight-up jams during the ceremony, and toward the end of the evening he decided to play some Oscar trivia where celebrities had to guess if a song was nominated for Best Original Song. Finally, a bit!

HIGH: Glenn Close participating in the game. Close may have lost an Oscar, but she certainly won the entire evening. Not only did Close know what “Da Butt” was, but she also did the dance move. It was iconic, to say the least.

LOW: Best Picture announced before Best Actor and Best Actress. It’s Oscar tradition that Best Picture is the last award of the night, but for some reason, it was the third from last to be announced. “Nomadland” won, which was great and all, but what gives? Did they want Best Actor to be last so the late Chadwich Boseman, who was expected to win, could have a moment?

HIGH: “Nomadland” wins Best Picture. Regardless of the wonky order, “Nomadland” won, and it was well deserved. Frances McDormand, who was a producer of the film, gave a great speech, and she even howled to the moon at the end.

HIGH: Frances McDormand won Best Actress. Again, this wasn’t much of a surprise, but any time McDormand gets to give a speech, you know it’s going to be good. After a long night, she gave a short and sweet speech and it was perfect.

LOW: Chadwich Boseman didn’t win Best Actor: Look, it’s fine that Boseman didn’t win Best Actor. Anthony Hopkins won, and he gave a fantastic performance in “The Father,” but the fact that the Oscar producers were so sure that Boseman was going to win that they rearranged the order of categories to only have their big emotional moment not happen was so dumb. And to top it off, Hopkins wasn’t even at the ceremony to accept the award. So the show just ended and that was it. Talk about anti-climactic, right?

What did you think about the Oscars? Would you give it two thumbs up or down?

About the Author:

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.