The Oscars ceremony has gone through a huge makeover this year, and not just in the way of its new, socially distant location at Union Station. With plush blue carpets and velvet booths, the train station in Los Angeles got a glamorous face lift.
The small, sparse gathering of Hollywood’s elite was finally a multicultural affair with firsts in many categories: the first time more than one woman was nominated for Best Director, the first time an Asian-American woman was nominated for Best Director, the first time actors of color outnumbered white actors nominated for Best Actor, the first time an all-Black production team was nominated for Best Picture, and the first time a Muslim was nominated for Best Actor.
However, without a host – we miss you, Billy Crystal – to sing us through the opening, and without the musical numbers to break up the monotony of “And the Oscar goes to…” every couple of awards, the show was much more pomp than circumstance. Sure, we are in the middle of a pandemic, so it feels slightly off-color not to mention the over three million people who have died over the past year and to not keep it a somber affair in respect for all the lives still being lost to police brutality, senseless murder, and genocide. The Oscars have long played an important role in highlighting social injustices on its very global platform, and this year was no different.
However, we don’t need a global platform (or the dazzlingly beautiful rich and famous) to tell us how difficult the world is right now. We need them to make us laugh, keep our minds off our current circumstances, and give us a reprieve. Maybe that’s why during the In Memoriam section – where the images and names flew by too quick to catch because there are so many notables names we lost this past year – we felt just a little grateful that the song playing in the background didn’t strike a minor chord, but held a hopeful, upbeat tempo. Because right now, we want to be given the old razzle dazzle.
Despite a few memorable moments, it was overall a slightly anti-climactic affair. It’s a good thing you’re reading the highlights here, so you don’t have to sit through the whole thing. You’re welcome.
Glenn Close Does the 'Da Butt' Dance
Hands down the best moment of the night was when Glenn Close not only knew the Oscar-nominated ‘Da Butt’ song and which movie it was from – School Days by Spike Lee – but she then got up and did the famous ‘Da Butt’ dance in her blue gown and Christian Louboutin shoes. We will be returning to this GIF anytime we need a pick-me-up from now until forevermore.
Andra Day's Response to 'Purple Rain'
During the ‘Name that Tune’ portion of the evening, actors were asked to say whether a song had been Oscar nominated, won the Oscar, or none of the above, Andra Day – who was dressed like an Academy Award herself – was given the microphone as Prince‘s ‘Purple Rain’ played. She sang along with the track for a bit, and then when asked if it won the Oscar, her response was nothing short of bitter brilliance:
“I mean, it’s a brilliant song so it probably wasn’t nominated, and that’s some bullsh*t.”
The Way Daniel Kaluuya Thanked His Mom and Dad
It’s not uncommon to thank one’s parents after winning an award, but nobody has ever done it quite like Daniel Kaluuya after winning the award for Best Supporting Actor for Judas and the Black Messiah. Perhaps it is a bit uncouth to say it here, so we won’t repeat his exact words. We’ll just leave you with this screenshot Issa Rae captured of his mother’s expression afterwards, and you can Google the rest yourself.
Youn Yuh-jung's Hysterical Acceptance Speech
Youn Yuh-jung, the talented South Korean actress who won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Minari, brought the house down with her adorable acceptance speech where she managed to hit on Brad Pitt, tell Glenn Close she was just luckier than her, and passive-aggressively thank her sons while also reminding them how hard Mommy works for them.
The Return of the Red Carpet
Mamma Mia. When Amanda Seyfried showed up in that gorgeous red Giorgio Armani and Zendaya walked like a goddess among women down the red carpet in an earth-stopping, neon Valentino, we just took a moment to admire the breathtaking moment where we thanked our lucky stars that Hollywood glam and red carpets were back.
All the Wins That Paved New Ground for Women
Thankfully, the women were the clear winners of the night. Emerald Fennell won Best Original Screenplay for Promising Young Woman, an award that hadn’t gone to a woman since Diablo Cody for Juno in 2008. Chloé Zhao won Best Director for Nomadland, making her not only the second woman to ever win the award after Katheryn Bigelow, but also the first woman of color to win the award, and Youn Yuh-jung is the first Korean and the second Asian to take home the award for Best Supporting Actress. Nomadland also broke through ceilings for women, becoming only the second film in history that was directed by a woman to win Best Picture.
Fern....We Mean Fran... Ties With Meryl for Oscar Wins
In a bit of an awkward moment, when the Nomadland team went up to accept the award for Best Picture, the adorable Zhao introduced Frances McDormand as Fern (her character’s name in the movie). McDormand then stepped up to the microphone and firmly – and perhaps a tad bit impolitely – said, “No. I’m Fran.” Duly noted, Fran. Frances McDormand later went on to win Best Actress giving her a total of three Oscars – the same number as Meryl Streep, and one less than Katherine Hepburn.
Chadwick Boseman Didn't Win (and We are Shooketh)
Don’t get us wrong, Anthony Hopkins is an incredible actor and deserves an award. We were just so sure that Chadwick Boseman would be posthumously honored for his incredible and heartbreaking performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Instead the award went to Hopkins (now the eldest person to ever win for Best Actor) for his role in The Father, who unfortunately was not in attendance to accept the award either and thus, the show ended in one big anti-climactic moment of shock.