This year’s Oscars were unique in a number of ways, most of them rarely positive – though it was never going to be their grandest year. 2020 was, of course, the year that was almost devoid of mainstream cinema – either films were forced to stop production or there simply weren’t the venues to show the completed titles. So it’s almost surprising to look back and see how many films one actually did recognise – even if it wasn’t possible to see them in the conventional way.
The ceremony, live from Union Station rather than its usual venue, the Dolby Theater in the heart of Hollywood, managed its temporary relocation pretty well. If the Oscars have got a little too big in their self-congratulatory presentations in recent years, then this was a swing of the cinematic barometer in the other direction – a vastly reduced audience often looking like the turnout for a far less-prestigious corporate dinner party. Awards came and went in dutiful succession. Chloé Zhao got major recognition for helming Nomadland – her next film Marvel Studios‘ Eternals will be the very different. No-one was surprised that Soul got the musical nods, that My Octopus Teacher got the Best Documentary and that Tenet got the Visual Effects award (frankly, the only one it deserved). Arguably, the highlight was Tyler Perry’s acceptance speech for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (“Refuse Hate“) and Glenn Close single-handedly saving a wholly-misjudged trivia section. Harrison Ford mumbled through Blade Runner studio-notes that was delightfully ‘meta’ or have already derailed Indiana Jones 5 plans and Daniel Kaluuya thanked God and his parents for having sex.
Bizarrely, the running order for the actual presentations were rearranged and I can’t have been the only critic who quickly checked their notes and wondered if we’d dozed off somewhere when the award for Best Film was starting to be rolled out and we still hadn’t had the Actor and Actress statuettes presented. That made the last few minutes of the three hour event something of an anti-climax. Essentially: “Anthony Hopkins won, not Chadwick Boseman. Sir Tony’s not here. Sorry. Good night! Go to commercials“.
It will be interesting to see if the Academy Awards – and more importantly, the industry – can fully recover in time for next year, but until then, we can but hope that Frances McDormand’s wish that we actually get to see some of this past year’s nominees in actual cinemas in the near future and before 2022 comes around, is fulfilled.
Best Picture: Nomadland
Best Director: Chloé Zhao for Nomadland
Best Actor: Anthony Hopkins, The Father
Best Actress: Frances McDormand for Nomadland
Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah
Best Supporting Actress: Yuh-Jung Youn for Minari
Original Screenplay: Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman
Adapted Screenplay: Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller for The Father
Animated Feature: Soul
Production Design: Mank
Costume Design: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Cinematography: Erik Messerschmidt for Mank
Editing: Sound of Metal
Makeup and Hairstyling: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sound: Sound of Metal
Visual Effects: Tenet
Score: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste for Soul
Song: Fight for You from Judas and the Black Messiah
Documentary Feature: My Octopus Teacher
International Feature: Another Round (from Denmark)
Animated Short: If Anything Happens I Love You
Documentary Short: Colette
Live-Action Short: Two Distant Strangers