93rd Academy Awards

The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 2020 and early 2021. It took place in Los Angeles[n 1] at both Union Station and the Dolby Theatre, on April 25, 2021 – two months later than planned – due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cinema. Nominations had been announced on March 15, 2021.[2]

93rd Academy Awards
93 Oscars KA Poster Vert 1080x1350-Navy.jpg
Official poster
DateApril 25, 2021
SiteUnion Station and Dolby Theatre
Los Angeles, California, US
Preshow hostsAriana DeBose
Lil Rel Howery
Produced byJesse Collins
Stacey Sher
Steven Soderbergh
Directed byGlenn Weiss
Highlights
Best PictureNomadland
Most awardsNomadland (3)
Most nominationsMank (10)
TV in the United States
NetworkABC
Duration3 hours, 19 minutes
Ratings10.4 million[1]

Nomadland won three awards, the most of the night, including Best Picture.[3] The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Soul and Sound of Metal won two awards each. Another Round, Colette, If Anything Happens I Love You, Minari, My Octopus Teacher, Promising Young Woman, Tenet, and Two Distant Strangers won one award each.

The ceremony marked the first time since the 78th Academy Awards in 2006 that no film won more than three awards and the first time since the 44th Academy Awards in 1972 – when the show ended with an Academy Honorary Award to Charlie Chaplin – that the ceremony did not end with the award for Best Picture (it ended with Best Actress and Actor).[4]

According to Nielsen estimates (which began in 1974), this ceremony was the least-viewed Academy Awards telecast on record in the United States, with 10.4 million viewers.[1]

BackgroundEdit

The Academy announced in June 2020 that it was postponing the ceremony to April 25, 2021, from its originally scheduled date of February 28, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby extending the eligibility period for feature films to February 28, 2021. The eligibility criteria had already been modified to account for films originally intended to have a theatrical release but released directly to streaming services instead. It marked the fourth time that the Academy Awards have been postponed, and the first time since the 6th Academy Awards in 1934 that films released in two different calendar years were eligible for awards consideration in the same ceremony.[5]

Winners and nomineesEdit

The nominees for the 93rd Academy Awards were announced live on March 15, 2021, in a global livestream by Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas on the awards' official website.[6][7]

Best Director winner Chloé Zhao, who is Chinese, became the first woman of color to have won the category and only the second woman after Kathryn Bigelow (who won in 2010 for The Hurt Locker) to be given the award.[8] Zhao's Oscar win was censored in China and blocked on Chinese social media platforms.[9] Best Actor winner Anthony Hopkins, at age 83, became the oldest winner in an acting category.[10] Best Actress winner Frances McDormand became the seventh person to win a third acting Oscar and the second to win Best Actress three times.[11] As a producer of Nomadland, she also became the first actor in history to win an acting Oscar and a Best Picture Oscar on the same night.[12] Best Supporting Actress winner Youn Yuh-jung became the first Korean actor and only the second Asian woman to win in an acting category.[13] Pete Docter became the first person to win three times for Best Animated Feature.[14] With his nominations in Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Song for One Night in Miami..., Leslie Odom Jr. became the fourth consecutive person to earn acting and songwriting nominations for the same film after Mary J. Blige for Mudbound (2017), Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born (2018), and Cynthia Erivo for Harriet (2019).

 
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

AwardsEdit

Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface, and indicated with a double dagger (‡).[15]

Governors AwardsEdit

The Academy cancelled its annual Governors Awards ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead incorporated the winners into the Oscar ceremony, as had been the practice prior to the 82nd Academy Awards.[16] This was the first year of the Governors Awards in which there have not been any official winners of the Academy Honorary Award.

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian AwardEdit

There were two recipients of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award:[17]

  • 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

At the 93rd annual ceremony, seven films received multiple awards; twenty films received multiple nominations.

Presenters and performersEdit

PresentersEdit

Name Presentation
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
Bong Joon-ho
Sharon Choi
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
Marlee Matlin
Jack Jason
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

PerformersEdit

Performances of the nominees for Best Original Song were shown during the ceremony's pre-show, Oscars: Into the Spotlight. Four of the performances were filmed from the rooftop terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, while "Husavik" was performed on-location in its namesake of Húsavík, Iceland.[18] During the actual awards show, clips from the songs' music videos were shown.

Name Role Performance
Questlove Musical director
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

Film trailersEdit

20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures debuted trailers for their upcoming films during the ceremony, with someone from each film introducing their respective trailers. In an interview with Adweek, Jerry Daniello (SVP, entertainment brand solutions and Disney Ad Sales) explained that this move would "reinforce this year's theme that the Oscars will feel more like a movie rather than an awards show".[19][20]

Name Role
Ariana DeBose Introduced the trailer for Steven Spielberg's West Side Story[19]
Lin-Manuel Miranda Introduced the trailer for In the Heights[19]
Questlove Introduced the trailer for his documentary Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)[19]

Ceremony informationEdit

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

During its board of governors meeting on April 28, 2020, the Academy voted to consolidate the Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing category into a single Best Sound category (reducing the total number of categories to 23). The Sound branch had raised concerns that the two categories had too much overlap in scope.[21] The rules for Best Original Score now require that a film's score include a minimum of 60% original music, and franchise films and sequels must have a minimum of 80% new music.[21] For the first time, preliminary voting for Best International Feature Film was also opened to all voting members of the Academy.[21]

As part of the Academy's environmental initiatives, the distribution of physical and hardcopy items such as screener copies, screenplays, and music CDs would be discontinued after the 93rd Academy Awards. Screeners would be served solely through the members-only "Academy Screening Room" streaming service going forward.[21]

On December 8, 2020, Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher, and Steven Soderbergh were named the producers of the ceremony.[22] Glenn Weiss was slated to direct the ceremony for the sixth consecutive year.[23] Due to COVID-19-related considerations, the main ceremony would take place at Los Angeles Union Station rather than its usual home of the Dolby Theatre.[24][25] Performances of the nominees for Best Original Song would air during the red carpet pre-show rather than during the ceremony itself, with most of them performed from the rooftop terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.[18]

Soderbergh stated that his goal for the ceremony was for it to be produced and directed as if it were a film itself. Production designer David Rockwell explained that the production sought inspiration from the earliest Academy Awards ceremonies, and that they had considered historic Oscars venues such as the Biltmore and Hollywood Roosevelt Hotels before deciding on Union Station. The original ticket lobby of the station would be used as the main location of the ceremony, while its adjacent patios would be used for pre- and post-show activity. Rockwell described the planned set design as constructing "a room within a room".[26][25] Furthermore, the ceremony was filmed at the traditional cinematic frame rate of 24 frames per-second, as opposed to 30, and in a cinematic aspect ratio rather than the standard 16:9 aspect ratio used by most television programming.[27]

For the third consecutive ceremony, there would be no singular host.[28] To reinforce the producers' goal of producing the ceremony as a film, the Academy announced an "ensemble cast" of 15 presenters on April 12 that would be involved in the ceremony in some way, including Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Bong Joon Ho, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger, and Zendaya. They would include all four of the acting winners from the 92nd ceremony, upholding the long-standing tradition that the acting awards at the Academy Awards be presented by the previous year's winners.[29][30]

The musical director of the ceremony was Questlove, in addition to being the show's in-house DJ. The music for the ceremony was largely remixed from compositions created by his band The Roots, with no in-house orchestra present.[31]

After the ceremony, ABC aired an aftershow entitled Oscars: After Dark, hosted by Colman Domingo and Andrew Rannells.[32]

Best Actor announcement endingEdit

In a break with tradition, the lead acting categories were presented last after the awarding of Best Picture.[33] This led many viewers to believe that the ceremony's producers were anticipating Chadwick Boseman to posthumously win Best Actor, which could have been accompanied by a tribute to the actor. Anthony Hopkins, who was not in attendance, was instead announced as the winner. Joaquin Phoenix, who presented the category, simply stated that the Academy accepts the award on Hopkins' behalf in his absence, and the show ended abruptly.[34] Allegedly, Hopkins had offered to appear via Zoom, as he did not want to travel to designated location, but was denied by producers.[35] He released a video the following day accepting the award, as well as paying tribute to Boseman.[36] He stated, among other things, that he was "very privileged and honored", while also acknowledging "I really did not expect this".[36]

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Soderbergh revealed 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". After the ceremony, Soderbergh defended the decision, believing 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.[37]

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemicEdit

Eligibility and schedulingEdit

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the American film industry – including interruptions to film production and the nationwide closures of cinemas due to restrictions on commerce and public gatherings – had a major impact on the lead-up to the 93rd ceremony. In particular, the Academy Awards require films to have received a theatrical release in the previous calendar year, in at least one cinema in Los Angeles County for at least seven days with three screenings per-day, in order to be eligible. The Golden Globe Awards had changed its criteria for its 2021 edition to allow films originally scheduled to have a "bona fide theatrical release" in Los Angeles between March 15 and April 30 to be eligible if released direct-to-streaming.[38] In regard to the Oscars, the Academy stated that it was "in the process of evaluating all aspects of this uncertain landscape and what changes may need to be made".[38]

The AMPAS delayed its board of governors meeting to April 28,[39][40] where it voted to temporarily allow films first released via password-protected (covering subscription streaming services) or transactional video on demand services to be eligible for nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, if they were originally scheduled to have a theatrical release, and are uploaded to AMPAS's online screening service within 60 days of their public release. The previous requirement for a seven-day theatrical release would be reinstated once cinemas have sufficiently resumed operations. To make it easier to render a film eligible, the Academy would allow screenings in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York City, and the San Francisco Bay Area to qualify in addition to Los Angeles.[21][41][42]

There were talks of postponing or even canceling the 93rd ceremony.[43] On June 15, 2020, the Academy announced that the ceremony would be delayed by two months from February 28, 2021 to April 25, and the eligibility periods for feature films would likewise be extended through February 28.[44] In a joint statement, AMPAS president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson explained that "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."[44] The Academy's Governors Awards and Scientific and Technical Awards have been postponed indefinitely.[44] Following the postponement announcement, the British Academy Film Awards also moved from February to April,[44] and the Golden Globe Awards took the Oscars' previous date by moving to February 28.[45]

On October 7, 2020, the Academy issued a clarification of its eligibility criteria, stating that a week of nightly screenings at a drive-in theater within the aforementioned cities would also render films eligible for consideration in the 93rd ceremony.[46]

ProductionEdit

On December 1, 2020, a representative of the Academy told Variety that an in-person ceremony "will happen", as opposed to a fully remote or hybrid format. A hybrid format was used by the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, where the host and award presenters were present on-site, but all nominees appeared from remote locations.[47] On March 15, the Academy announced that the ceremony would take place at Los Angeles Union Station in addition to the Dolby Theatre, although exact details over how the ceremony will be split between these venues were not yet announced. All other in-person festivities associated with the Academy Awards had been canceled.[24]

On March 19, 2021, the show's organizers announced that nominees would not be able to attend via video conference. In a letter sent out to all the nominees, the producers have said that they went to "great lengths to provide a safe and enjoyable evening for all of you in person" believing that a "virtual thing will diminish those efforts".[48] However, on March 30, it was announced that additional venues for the ceremony would be established in London and Paris to reduce travel amongst nominees.[49] On April 18, The New York Times reported that a total of 20 remote venues had been confirmed for the ceremony.[50] These included the BFI Southbank in London and the Dolby Cinema in Seoul, the latter of which being where the Academy Award for Best Director was presented by Bong Joon-ho.

In mid-April, the Academy revealed details on safety protocols; audience capacity would be limited to 170 people, with attendees rotated in and out through the show. Attendees were required to take a temperature check upon entry to the venue and take at least three COVID-19 tests in the days leading up to the ceremony. Guests were recommended to be vaccinated for COVID-19, but this was not required. For the purposes of safety protocols, Union Station was treated as a television production location, and attendees were required to wear face masks when not on-camera.[51][52]

Reports of homeless people being forced out of Union Station to accommodate the ceremony caused Los Angeles City Council member Kevin de León to state that "NO unhoused residents are being forced to relocate ... we were able to offer housing options to unhoused residents in the vicinity of Union Station".[53]

Censorship in China and Hong KongEdit

The ceremony was subject to various forms of censorship in China and its territories.

The ceremony telecast and all online discussion of it was censored in the mainland due to scrutiny over Nomadland director, Chinese-American Chloé Zhao, who reportedly made comments critical of China in a 2013 interview with Filmmaker magazine. The ceremony was pulled by its Chinese rightsholders, and all discussions of the ceremony were largely censored from Chinese social media and news outlets.[54][55]

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.[56]

Critical reviewsEdit

The show received a mostly negative reception from critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the show has a 24% approval rating, based on 34 reviews, with an average rating of 4.17/10. The website's consensus read, "The 93rd Oscars definitely delivered something different, but after a strong opening moment with Regina King, the changes to this year's ceremony cemented the importance of certain structural traditions – and how damaging hedging your bets on the Academy's votes can be."[57]

There was further criticism of the ceremony not recognizing movie theaters after the pandemic's impact on cinema, including closures, furloughs and layoffs of employees, and revenue loss; in comparison, the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards included a tribute to live music venues impacted by the pandemic.[58]

The decision to switch the presentation order of Best Picture and Best Actor to make the latter category last was criticized. Many speculated that Best Actor was announced last so as to give an emotional tribute to the deceased Chadwick Boseman, who was the perceived frontrunner for his performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. When fellow nominee Anthony Hopkins won for his performance in The Father instead, the ceremony ended abruptly, as Hopkins did not appear.[59] Hopkins reportedly offered to accept via Zoom, but was denied.[60] Many lamented this decision as disrespectful to Boseman and Hopkins, as well as an unnecessary break from tradition.

ViewershipEdit

According to Nielsen estimates (which began in 1974), the ceremony was the least-viewed Academy Awards telecast on record in the United States, with 10.4 million viewers.[1] This was down 56% from the previous year's viewership of 23.6 million.[61]

In MemoriamEdit

The annual In Memoriam segment was presented by Angela Bassett. Instead of a performance, a montage was played alongside a version of the Stevie Wonder song "As".[62] The segment was subject to criticism, with some viewers complaining that the montage was edited at an inappropriately fast pace; Disney's executive vice president of unscripted and alternative entertainment Rob Mills acknowledged the complaints and said that the pace of the montage was designed to match the tempo of the song.[63]

The montage included:[64]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Some nominees based in other areas appeared at satellite venues.

ReferencesEdit

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