The 2021 Oscars

Reviews

While 2021 has certainly been an unconventional year, the 93rd Academy Awards were held around the world on April 25, 2021. Unlike in previous years, the Oscars were hosted in late April and, for the first time, outside of Dolby Theatre in order to uphold COVID-19 protocols. The awards were also held in many local and international locations, but with a primary focus in the historic Los Angeles Union Station.

Starting in the order in which the awards were presented, the first award – Best Original Screenplay – went to Emerald Fennell for her screenplay and directing of “Promising Young Woman.” Other nominated films included: “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Minari,” “Sound of Metal,” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” “Promising Young Woman,” casting Carey Mulligan as the lead, follows the story of an ambitious medical school dropout seeking vengeance for the rape of her friend. I did not expect this to win – I thought that Alan Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7” would take the Oscar instead. The writing was phenomenal, especially the ending which left me both infuriated and happy. Sorkin is largely known for his work on law TV, and his expertise shone through in “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” 

 Next, Best Adapted Screenplay was awarded to Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller for their writing in “The Father.” Other nominated films included “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” “Nomadland,” “One Night in Miami…” and “The White Tiger.” “The Father” stars Anthony Hopkins as the protagonist, who is combating severe memory loss and old age. 

The winner of Best International Feature Film was Denmark’s “Another Round.” The film stars well-known actor Mads Mikkelson as a depressed school teacher with a group of friends who, together, begin drinking to live their lives. Following this win, an American remake was announced, starring Leonardo Dicaprio in the lead role. “Another Round” was produced very well, from the casting to the actual story itself. Mikkelson acted perfectly for his role as an unsatisfied adult.

Daniel Kaluuya was awarded Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Other nominees included Sasha Baron Cohen, Leslie Odom Jr. Paul Raci, and LaKeith Stanfeild.  “Judas and the Black Messiah” inspects the lives of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and FBI informant William O’Neal.

The next award presented was Best Makeup and Styling to the crew of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” starring Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman. Other nominated films included “Emma,” “Hillbilly Elegy,” “Mank,” and “Pinnochio.” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” depicts the life of blues singer Ma Rainey. 

One of the biggest awards, Best Director, was awarded to Chloe Zhao for her direction of “Nomadland.” Other nominated directors included Thomas Vintenberg for ”Another Round,” David Fincher for “Mank,” Lee Isaac Chung for “Minari,” and Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman.” “Nomadland” follows the life of a woman who embarks on a path throughout the United States. I thought Chloe Zhao did a great job directing “Nomadland,” especially with her being a relative newcomer to the film industry. I am particularly excited to see her direction in Marvel’s “Eternals.”

The award for Best Sound was awarded to “Sound of Metal,” a story about a drummer who loses his hearing causing panic in his life. Other nominees included “Greyhound,” “Mank,” “News of the World,” and “Soul.” 

The next three awards, Best Short Film (live action), Best Animated Short, and Best Animated Feature Film went to “Two Distant Strangers,” “If Anything Happens, I Love You,” and “Soul,” respectively. After watching “Soul,” I knew it would win Best Animated Feature, with great animation, music, and storyline; what is also remarkable is that fact that “Soul” was created at home during the pandemic and still achieved a great deal of success. 

Following the shorts and animation awards, the documentary awards –Best Documentary (short subject) and Best Documentary (feature) – went to “Collette” and “My Octopus Teacher,” respectively.

The next award, Best Visual Effects, went to “Tenet,” a Christopher Nolan film starring John David Washington as the protagonist. Other nominees included “Love and Monsters,” “Mulan,” “The Midnight Sky,” and “The One and Only Ivan.” 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role went to Yuh-Jung Youn, who played a traditional grandmother in “Minari.” Other nominees included Maria Bakalova, Glenn Close, Olivia Colemen, and Amanda Seyfried. “Minari” follows a Korean family living in the United States enduring the hardships of life. While I understand the outcome, I thought Maria Bakalova should have won, however, after putting herself out there in a daring role for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” 

The following two awards Best Production Design and Best Cinematography went to Donald Graham Burt, Jan Pascale, and cinematographer Erik Messerschdmit for their work on “Mank.” The film, starring Gary Oldman, follows screenwrite Herman J. Mankiewicz and his work on “Citizen Kane.” “Mank”  was filmed in all black and white, which really helped viewers understand the time period and situation. 

The next award, Best Film Editing was awarded to Mikkal E.G. Nielsen for his work on “Sound of Metal.” Other nominees included “The Father,” “Nomadland,” “Promising Young Woman,” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

The recipients of Best Score were Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross for their composition of “Soul.” Other nominees included “Da 5 Bloods,” “Mank,” “Minari,” and “News of the World.” “Soul” revolves around a jazz musician who after encountering death finds his place in the world. The award Best Song was given to musicians H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, and Tiara Thomas for their song “Fight For You,” “Judas and the Black Messiah.” 

The final three awards included Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Actor. After a long wait, the 2021 Best Picture Oscar went to “Nomadland.” Other nominations included “Mank,” “Minari,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Trial of the Chicago 7,” “The Father,” “Promising Young Woman,” and “Sound of Metal.” Although it was expected for “Nomadland,” I really hoped “Minari” would win Best Picture; I found the acting, production, and film editing to be exceptional.

The Oscar for Best Actress went to Frances Mcdormand for her performance in “Nomadland,” alongside fellow nominees Viola Davis, Andra Day, Vanessa Kirby, and Carey Mulligan. 

Finally, the Oscar for Best Actor went to Anthony Hopkins for his performance in “The Father.” Other nominations included Riz Ahmed, Chadwick Boseman, Gary Oldman, and Steven Yeun. 

While this year’s Oscars did not follow the conventional pattern, it was a success. Regardless of who won and who lost and which films were given awards, I highly recommend watching all of the nominated films from the 93rd Academy Awards.