After months of speculation, it all came down to this one night. On March 27, the 94th annual Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Dolby Theater. The ceremony celebrated the best in film for 2021 and this certainly was an entertaining show. Hosted by Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall, this show made for a night to remember. A few weeks ago, it seemed that this was going to be an unpredictable night with possible surprises. However, after more precursor awards came out and more critics’ predictions were posted, the awards given out seemed to be fairly expected. After changing my mind on some of my earlier predictions, I predicted 23 out of the 24 categories on my Oscar ballot (Darn Best Animated Short). That being said, I don’t watch the Oscars just for the winners. I watch it for the outfits, the emotional speeches, the laughs and the shocking moments. I mean, did anyone have Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on their Oscar ballot? It was a night for the history books and my family group chat was buzzing the whole night. A lot of that chat was complaining about how there were too many old white men or thirsting over Jacob Elordi, but overall, we had a great time watching the ceremony.
Twenty-four awards were given out during the ceremony, but some of the awards were not presented live. Eight awards were presented before the show and recorded to be shown during the ceremony in an effort to make the ceremony shorter. I still do not agree with this move as I like seeing people’s reactions live and seeing their full speeches. We seriously do not have time to see Riz Ahmed earn an Oscar for Best Live Action Short film, really? Despite some awards being shortened, we still got to see every award and it was an important night for many films. Walking away with the most awards, Dune received six awards out of 10 nominations. People thought Denis Villeneuve’s snub for being nominated Best Director was the biggest snub, so this shows that the academy does see the value of this film, and maybe Villeneuve will get a nom for the second part of “Dune.” The other big winner of the night was “CODA,” which won all three of the awards that it was nominated for, including Best Picture. It seemed that for a while, “The Power of the Dog” was going to take the top prize, but after winning the SAG awards, the PGA awards and after so much buzzing for the movie, “CODA” emerged as the frontrunner and rightfully took home Best Picture. It was my favorite of the Best Picture nominees (For the record, I have seen all of them except for “Dune” and “Drive My Car”) and I have been rooting for it to win even before it got the recent buzz. One of my favorite speeches of the night was when Troy Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor for “CODA.” He is the first deaf man to win an acting Oscar, and he signed his speech with a translator saying it. He expressed deep gratitude and showed why this award was important, and it was beautiful to see. He dedicated his award to the deaf community and to his dear father that lost the ability to sign after being paralyzed from the neck down. I could hear Kotsur’s translator tearing up. Another award I was happy to see was Jessica Chastain’s win for Best Actress in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” as the titular role. Her performance was easily the best out of the Best Actress nominees and I am glad she is now an Oscar winner. Her speech preached positivity and to stop violence, and it was wonderfully put. She dedicated her speech to the hate crimes against the LGBTQ community and how she only wanted love. She expressed how she was inspired by Tammy Faye’s acts of love and how she believed in her message of accepting everyone. Honestly, there was not a bad speech all night and every winner seemed extremely grateful, and I am glad we got to witness these gorgeous moments.
When there weren’t awards being handed out, the ceremony had comedy bits, songs and tributes. Every Best Original song nomination was performed, except for “Down to Joy” by Van Morrison from the film “Belfast” as he was busy on tour, which is probably for the best since he is notoriously unvaccinated. The night started with Beyonce performing her song “Be Alive” from “King Richard.” She performed this on an actual tennis court and she was in a dress the color of a tennis ball, as was everyone in her band and her backup dancers, which made for a fun performance. Later, Sebastian Yatra performed “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto, which was a pretty folk song in Spanish and a pretty performance. There were a lot of bright colors and plants decorating the stage along with dancers that were dressed in traditional outfits to honor the Colombian culture of the film. I found it all to be beautiful. Also from Encanto, the viral hit “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was performed by the cast, dancing and singing all over the theater. The song was not nominated, but the Oscars wanted to cash in on this popularity in an expressive way. Reba McEntire later performed “Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days.” I don’t think anyone has seen this film but songwriter Diane Warren has been nominated thirteen times so the Academy loves her. Finally, Billie Eilish and Finneas performed the titular song from “No Time to Day” which ended up winning the award. It was a great song and Eilish certainly has a nice voice. The performance was understated with a dark color scheme which fit the tone of the song. The song was smooth and combining it with the presentation showed why the song won. There were also some fun comedy bits throughout the night. The three hosts had some fun jokes at the beginning including,“This year, the academy hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man.” Not every joke hit, but they got some chuckles out of me. Some later bits did not work for me, like Regina Hall joking about the hot guys needing COVID tests and basically groping them or the hosts dressing like the nominated films, but I still found it to be a smooth show. Then there is the moment of the night that everyone is talking about, Will Smith slapping Chris Rock. Chris Rock was on stage to present the award for Best Documentary FIlm. Since he is Chris Rock, he had to crack some jokes first. One of his jokes was saying that Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, could star in a sequel to G.I. Jane. The joke was that the titular character in G.I. Jane is bald, as is Pinkett Smith. However, Pinkett Smith has alopecia, so being bald is out of her control. Even though he seemed to be laughing at first, Will Smith was offended by this joke. This is what led to the famous slap. Audio was cut out for American audiences, but other countries got to hear Smith say “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” Then later, Will Smith won best actor for “King Richard,” and he got very emotional during his speech. People thought this turnaround was a little awkward and a little hilarious. Honestly I can see where Smith was coming from, but I don’t think hitting someone on live television while millions of people are watching is the answer. However, I’m sure the Academy is pleased since that slap gave the awards a lot more attention. It’s like the old saying goes, any press is good press.
I look forward to the Oscars every year. I do research for months and annoy everyone around me by talking about my research. I would say that this year’s ceremony did not disappoint. To compare this year’s Oscars to last year’s, I would say that I liked last year’s movies more, but I liked this year’s ceremony more. Even though it was predictable, it was a pretty smooth show with minimal cringey jokes. Everyone looked amazing (Jennifer Garner’s and Timothee Chalamet’s outfits were my favorites of the night) and all of the speeches were amazing. As always, the show went over the three hour time slot, but it did not feel that long to me. This ceremony was a wonderful love letter to this year’s films and I look forward to next year’s ceremony.