93rd Academy Awards

The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored films released from January 1, 2020, to February 28, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles.[a] The ceremony was held on April 25, 2021, rather than its usual late-February date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[8] During the ceremony, the AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 23 categories. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh, and was directed by Glenn Weiss.[9][10] For the third consecutive year, the ceremony had no official host.[11] In related events, the Academy Scientific and Technical Awards were presented by host Nia DaCosta on February 13, 2021, in a virtual ceremony.[12]

93rd Academy Awards
Official poster promoting the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021.
Official poster
DateApril 25, 2021
SiteUnion Station
Los Angeles, California, U.S.[a]
Preshow hosts
Produced by
Directed byGlenn Weiss
Highlights
Best PictureNomadland
Most awardsNomadland (3)
Most nominationsMank (10)
TV in the United States
NetworkABC
Duration3 hours, 19 minutes[5]
Ratings

Nomadland won three awards at the main ceremony, including Best Picture.[13] Other winners included The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Mank, Soul and Sound of Metal with two awards each, and Another Round, Colette, If Anything Happens I Love You, Minari, My Octopus Teacher, Promising Young Woman, Tenet, and Two Distant Strangers with one. The telecast received mostly negative reviews, and it garnered 10.4 million viewers, making it the least-watched Oscar broadcast since 1974's ceremony, when Nielsen began keeping records of viewership.[6][14][15]

Winners and nomineesEdit

The nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards were announced on March 15, 2021, by actress Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas during a live global stream originating from London.[16] Mank led all nominees with ten nominations. The winners were announced during the awards ceremony on April 25.[17] Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to win Best Director and the second woman overall after Kathryn Bigelow, who won at the 2010 ceremony for directing The Hurt Locker.[18] At age 83, Best Actor winner Anthony Hopkins was the oldest performer to ever win a competitive acting Oscar.[19] Best Actress winner Frances McDormand became the seventh person to win a third acting Oscar, the third to win three leading performance Oscars, and the second to win Best Actress three times.[20] As a producer of Nomadland, she also was the first person in history to win Oscars for both acting and producing for the same film.[21] Best Supporting Actress winner Youn Yuh-jung became the first Korean performer and second Asian female to win an acting Oscar after Miyoshi Umeki, who won the same category for her role in 1957's Sayonara.[22] With his nominations in Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Song for One Night in Miami..., Leslie Odom Jr. was the fourth consecutive person to earn acting and songwriting nominations for the same film.[b]

AwardsEdit

 
Chloé Zhao, Best Picture co-winner and Best Director winner
 
Frances McDormand, Best Picture co-winner and Best Actress winner
 
Anthony Hopkins, Best Actor winner
 
Daniel Kaluuya, Best Supporting Actor winner
 
Youn Yuh-jung, Best Supporting Actress winner
 
Emerald Fennell, Best Original Screenplay winner
 
Florian Zeller, Best Adapted Screenplay co-winner
 
Thomas Vinterberg, Best International Feature winner
 
Jon Batiste, Best Original Score co-winner
 
H.E.R., Best Original Song co-winner

Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface, and indicated with a double dagger (‡).[24]

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian AwardEdit

There were two recipients of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award:[25]

  • Tyler Perry – for his active engagement with philanthropy and charitable endeavors in recent years, including efforts to address homelessness and economic difficulties faced by members of the African-American community.
  • Motion Picture & Television Fund – for the emotional and financial relief services it offers to members of the entertainment industry.

Film awards and nominationsEdit

Presenters and performersEdit

The following individuals, listed in order of appearance, presented awards or performed musical numbers.[26][27]

Presenters
Name(s) Role
Regina King Presented the awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Laura Dern Presented the awards for Best International Feature Film and Best Supporting Actor
Don Cheadle Presented the awards for Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Costume Design
Bryan Cranston Presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to the Motion Picture & Television Fund
Presented the award for Best Director
Riz Ahmed Presented the awards for Best Sound and Best Live Action Short Film
Reese Witherspoon Presented the awards for Best Animated Short Film and Best Animated Feature Film
Presented the awards for Best Documentary Short Subject and Best Documentary Feature
Steven Yeun Presented the award for Best Visual Effects
Brad Pitt Presented the award for Best Supporting Actress
Halle Berry Presented the awards for Best Production Design and Best Cinematography
Harrison Ford Presented the award for Best Film Editing
Viola Davis Presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Tyler Perry
Zendaya Presented the awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song
Angela Bassett Presented the "In Memoriam" tribute
Rita Moreno Presented the award for Best Picture
Renée Zellweger Presented the award for Best Actress
Joaquin Phoenix Presented the award for Best Actor
Performers
Name Role Work
Molly Sandén Performer "Husavik" from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Laura Pausini and Diane Warren Performers "Io sì (Seen)" from The Life Ahead
Celeste Performer "Hear My Voice" from The Trial of the Chicago 7
Leslie Odom Jr. Performer "Speak Now" from One Night in Miami...
H.E.R. Performer "Fight for You" from Judas and the Black Messiah

CeremonyEdit

 
The original ticket lobby of Los Angeles Union Station, where the ceremony was held

In April 2017, the Academy scheduled the 93rd ceremony for February 28, 2021.[28] However, due to the impacts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic on both cinema and television, the AMPAS Board of Governors later decided to move the date for the 2021 gala by two months to April 25.[29] The annual Academy Governors Awards and corresponding nominees luncheon were canceled due to COVID-19 safety concerns.[30] This marked the first time since the 60th ceremony held in 1988 that the awards were held in April.[31] It also was the first time since the 53rd ceremony in 1981 that the ceremony was postponed from its original date.[32]

In December 2020, the Academy hired television producer Jesse Collins, film producer Stacey Sher, and Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh to oversee production of the telecast. "The upcoming Oscars is the perfect occasion for innovation and for re-envisioning the possibilities for the awards show. This is a dream team who will respond directly to these times. The Academy is excited to work with them to deliver an event that reflects the worldwide love of movies and how they connect us and entertain us when we need them the most," remarked Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson.[33]

The tagline for the ceremony, "Bring Your Movie Love", was intended to reflect "our global appreciation for the power of film to foster connection, to educate, and to inspire us to tell our own stories."[34] In tandem with the theme, the Academy hired seven artists to create custom posters for the event inspired by the question, "What do movies mean to you?"[35] Another aspect of the telecast's production was to produce the ceremony as if it were a film, including promoting the presenters as a "cast",[36][37] being filmed at the traditional cinematic frame rate of 24 frames per-second as opposed to 30, and using a cinematic aspect ratio rather than the standard 16:9 aspect ratio used by most television programming.[38]

As a result of concerns stemming from the pandemic, AMPAS announced that the main ceremony would be held for the first time at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles with portions of the festivities taking place at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.[39] To satisfy health and safety protocols, the Academy limited the number of people attending the gala to primarily nominees and presenters.[37][40] Attendees were asked to submit travel plans to Oscar organizers prior to arriving in Los Angeles and undergo multiple COVID-19 tests and isolation ten days prior to the event.[41] Guests were also asked to wear face masks whenever the broadcast paused for commercial breaks.[42] In consideration of overseas nominees unable to attend the ceremony, producers set up satellite "hubs" such as at BFI Southbank in London where they could participate in the gala.[43][44] Additionally, the five Best Original Song nominees were performed in previously recorded segments that were shown during the red carpet pre-show. Four of the songs were performed atop the Dolby Family Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; "Husavik" from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga was performed on location in the song's namesake town in Iceland.[3]

The Roots musician and The Tonight Show bandleader Questlove served as musical director for the ceremony.[45] He, along with Oscars red carpet pre-show host Ariana DeBose and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, presented trailers for the upcoming films Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), West Side Story, and In the Heights, respectively, during the ceremony.[46][47] Architect David Rockwell served as production designer for the show.[48] In a press conference between the production team and reporters, Rockwell stated that the main lobby inside Union Station would be repurposed as the main setting for the awards presentation while adjacent outdoor areas would serve as patios for attendees to congregate before and after the ceremony.[49] He also cited the Millennium Biltmore Hotel and The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the latter of which was the venue of the inaugural Oscars ceremony, as inspirations for the design and staging of the festivities.[50] Actors Colman Domingo and Andrew Rannells hosted Oscars: After Dark, a program airing immediately after the ceremony interviewing winners and nominees.[51]

The ceremony offered accommodations for those who are deaf or visually impaired; it was the first Academy Awards to be broadcast with audio description for the visually impaired (carried via second audio program on the ABC telecast), which (along with its closed captioning) was sponsored by Google. A sign language interpreter was available in the media room. Contrarily, deaf actress Marlee Matlin served as one of the award presenters, with her long-time partner Jack Jason interpreting her American Sign Language to spoken English.[52][53][54]

Eligibility and other rule changesEdit

Due to the ceremony date change, the Academy changed the eligibility deadline for feature films from December 31, 2020, to February 28, 2021. AMPAS president Rubin and CEO Hudson explained the decision to extended the eligibility period saying, "For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone's control."[55]

The Academy also revised its release and distribution requirements by allowing for films that were released via video on demand or streaming to be eligible for the awards on the condition that said films were originally scheduled to have a theatrical release and were subsequently uploaded to AMPAS's online screening service within 60 days of their public release. AMPAS also amended its theatrical exhibition qualifying rules to allow films debuting in theaters located in New York City, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, Atlanta, and Miami to qualify for the awards in addition to venues in Los Angeles.[56] Moreover, a week of nightly screenings at a drive-in theater within the aforementioned cities also rendered films eligible for consideration.[57]

Furthermore, the Academy made changes to specific award categories. The Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing categories were combined into a single Best Sound category due to concerns from the Sound branch that the two categories had too much overlap in scope.[58] The rules for Best Original Score were changed to require that a film's score include a minimum of 60% original music, with franchise films and sequels being required to have a minimum of 80% new music.[59] Finally, preliminary voting for Best International Feature Film was also opened to all voting members of the Academy for the first time.[60]

Best Actor announcement endingEdit

 
Many viewers and television critics believed Chadwick Boseman's impending win for Best Actor was a reason that producers saved the category as the last to be presented at the ceremony.

In a break with tradition, the lead acting categories were presented last after the awarding of Best Picture, with Best Actor coming last.[61] This led many viewers to believe that the ceremony's producers were anticipating Chadwick Boseman posthumously winning Best Actor, which could have been accompanied by a tribute to the actor; Boseman had been considered a strong frontrunner for the award.[62][63] When presenter Joaquin Phoenix announced that Anthony Hopkins was the winner of the category, Phoenix said that the Academy accepted the award on behalf of the latter, who was not present, and the ceremony came to an abrupt end.[63] It was later reported that Hopkins, who did not want to travel from his home in Wales, offered to appear via Zoom, but the producers declined his request.[63] The day after the ceremony, he released an acceptance speech on Instagram, in which he thanked the Academy, said that he "really did not expect" to win, and paid tribute to Boseman.[62] The selection of Hopkins over Boseman was controversial, with some feeling like it was a setup,[64][65] though Boseman's brother reported the family did not have any hard feelings toward the Academy.[66]

In a subsequent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Soderbergh said that switching the traditional order of awards was planned before the nominations were announced, claiming "actors' speeches tend to be more dramatic than producers' speeches". He said that the possibility of Boseman's widow accepting the award "would have been such a shattering moment" and "there would be nowhere to go after that". Soderbergh also defended the decision to not allow acceptance speeches via Zoom.[67]

Critical reviewsEdit

Many media outlets received the broadcast negatively.[14][15] Television critic Mike Hale of The New York Times wrote, "Sunday's broadcast on ABC was more like a cross between the Golden Globes and the closing-night banquet of a long, exhausting convention." He also commented, "The trade-off — whether because of the smaller crowd, the social distancing, or the sound quality in the cavernous space — was what felt like a dead room, both acoustically and emotionally. There were powerful and moving speeches, but they didn't seem to be generating much excitement, and when the people in the room aren't excited, it's hard to get excited at home."[68] Rolling Stone columnist Rob Sheffield noted, "The most flamboyantly unplanned and half-assed Oscar Night in recent history was a grind from beginning to end." He also criticized the production of the "In Memoriam" segment saying that the montage was edited at an inappropriately fast pace.[69] Kelly Lawler of USA Today commented, "While it was certainly challenging to stage the show safely, last month's Grammys proved that it is possible to make something entertaining and engaging amid the pandemic. Unfortunately, the Oscars producers seemingly missed that show. The Oscars were a train wreck at the train station, an excruciatingly long, boring telecast that lacked the verve of so many movies we love."[70]

Others gave a more favorable review of the show. Time columnist Judy Berman wrote that the ceremony "was more entertaining than the average pre-COVID Oscars. It started out especially strong." She also added, "Every part of this year's ceremony felt more intimate and less stuffy than just about any awards show I can remember. For once, the art and community of film seemed to take precedence over the business of film."[71] Associated Press reporter Lindsey Bahr commented, "The 93rd Academy Awards wasn't exactly a movie, but it was a show made for people who love learning about movies. And it stubbornly, defiantly wasn't trying to be anything else."[72] Darren Franlch of Entertainment Weekly gave an average review of the telecast, but singled out the winners and presenters for providing memorable moments throughout the show.[73]

Ratings and receptionEdit

The American telecast on ABC drew in an average of 10.4 million people over its length, which was a 56% decrease from the previous year's ceremony.[74] The show also earned lower Nielsen ratings compared to the previous ceremony with 5.9% of households watching the ceremony.[7] In addition, it garnered a lower rating among viewers between ages 18–49 with a 2.1 rating among viewers in that demographic.[75] It earned the lowest viewership for an Academy Award telecast since figures were compiled beginning with the 46th ceremony in 1974.[76]

In July 2021, the ceremony presentation received eight nominations for the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards.[77] Two months later, the ceremony won for Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special (Alana Billingsley, Joe Celli, Jason Howard, and David Rockwell).[78]

Censorship in China and Hong KongEdit

The ceremony was subject to various forms of censorship in China and its territories. Due to scrutiny over Nomadland director Chloé Zhao—a Chinese-American citizen who reportedly made comments critical of China in a 2013 interview with Filmmaker magazine—the ceremony telecast was pulled by its local rightsholders in the mainland, and all discussions of the ceremony were censored from Chinese social media and news outlets.[79][80]

In addition, Hong Kong broadcaster TVB announced that the ceremony would not be shown live in the region for the first time since 1969. A TVB spokesperson told AFP that this was a "commercial decision". It was speculated that the decision was in retaliation for the nomination of Do Not Split, a documentary on Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests in 2019, for Best Documentary Short Subject.[81]

"In Memoriam"Edit

The annual "In Memoriam" segment was presented by Angela Bassett.[82][83] The montage featured the song "As" by singer Stevie Wonder.[84]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b The presentation of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to the Motion Picture & Television Fund was held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, and the winner of the Best Director was announced from the Dolby Cinema in Seoul, South Korea.[1][2] Furthermore, four of the Best Original Song nominees were performed at the Dolby Family Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and one was performed on location in Húsavík, Iceland.[3]
  2. ^ The three previous individuals to have earned this distinction are Mary J. Blige for Mudbound, Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born, and Cynthia Erivo for Harriet.[23]

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