The good, bad and ugly of the 93rd Academy Awards


Chris Pizzelo/USA Today

During the weeks leading up to the movie world’s biggest awards show and telecast of the year, viewers were told that the presentation for the 93rd Academy Awards would feel like a movie. With Steven Soderbergh as executive producer and show visionary, movie star nominees would be like cast members and the show would entertain. Short story long, they were wrong. It didn’t come off that at all. For the good, bad and the ugly of the latest Oscars, keep scrolling.

The good

Youn Yuh-jung’s acceptance speech. It was widely thought the “Minari” star would most likely take the best supporting actress trophy. But it was the unusual and star-struck speech that Yuh-jung gave, including her flirtatiously mini-roast of presenter Brad Pitt (a producer on her movie), that was the biggest takeaway. It wasn’t preachy or too long, just the right amount of humanistic sweet. I also wanted to know, like the reporter asking the question, what the Springfield, Mo. born movie star smelled like, Youn!

The big categories being presented earlier than usual. While the best actor/actress and best picture awards were predictably saved for last, most of the bigger categories were decided right past the halfway mark of the show. Instead of treating it like a “drink that red bull and make it to the end,” the organizers filtered in big moments earlier than the norm.

Thomas Vinterberg’s speech. The “Another Round” director lost his daughter four days into the filming of his Danish-language winner of best international feature, and he let it all out on the big stage. He started off slowly, thanking producers and crew members. But by the time he got to star Mads Mikkelsen, whom he called the glue that held everything together, the director was crying. It was real, halfway expected, and sucked the awkwardness out of the room for just a few seconds. Don’t sleep on the movie. Climb over the one-inch subtitle wall and watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

From best supporting actor winner Daniel Kaluuya, we found out that his parents had sex once upon a time. Mixed into a speech that spoke about the power of getting a legendary figure like Fred Hampton’s story on the big screen, Kaluuya went off the cuff and it was hilarious and sincere at the same time.

Speaking of awards speeches, cheers to the Academy for letting the winners actually speak for a little while longer. More of that, less of the “presented like a movie” phoniness.

The bad

The presenter’s mixing in stories about how they got into movies. While most liked this addition, I found it to be out of place and awkward. Someone in the audience suddenly started talking and the crowd slowly hushed, missing half of the story anyway. Steven Yeun’s tale about loving “Terminator 2,” a call sign to Yuh-jang’s fictional grandmother in “Minari,” was halfway cute yet sounded forced due to the timing.

The opening monologue. Regina King is stunning and could host an ordinary Oscars show, but even she was a little confused when she reached the stage. She could have said, “Well, high schoolers, are you ready for the awards?” You could cut the overwrought tension in the room with a knife.

The multiple host idea. Do us all a favor and pick one person to wheel and deal on stage or in the audience. While she isn’t perfect by any means, The Rock or Ellen DeGeneres could host and do a great job. Ordering pizza for the audience in the middle of the show never sounded so needed than it was last night.

Is it just me or are you really tired of the “Ocean’s Eleven” score now?

The ugly

The whole premise. Instead of coming off like a movie, as Soderbergh and ABC intended, the night carried all the appeal of a high school assembly meeting. Smaller room, no chatter, awkward stories and winners who seemed stunned they were even in the same room. Little of the new idea worked, so let’s go back to what was overlong yet connective.

The lack of movie reel remembrances. Maybe this happened in the final 45 minutes, after I had fallen asleep a few times, but these are always my favorite part of the show. An inspirational piece of film music, several expertly-cut scenes or images, and the honoring of the past. It usually takes three to five minutes and is rousing. Instead, we got half-baked “how we fell in love with the movies” renditions.

The wrap

Audiences, watching from home or on Twitter, were enraged that Anthony Hopkins won the best actor award for intuitively playing a man suffering from Alzheimer’s. The late, great Chadwick Boseman was expected to win for his ferocious portrayal of Levee Brown in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” There’s nothing more Oscars-like than slamming a winner because your person didn’t win. Ninety-three years later, and nobody understands.

The winners are merely an opinion, one sewn from a group of people with politically-influenced agendas or more importantly, different viewpoints than the random viewer. Hopkins was just as deserving as Boseman. That’s the unfiltered truth. People were just mad about it due to awards prognosticators being wrong and the entire show tanking. The sun rose today. All is well.

And now, for a quick story on that subject. A few years back, I wanted Sylvester Stallone to win badly for “Creed,” where he revived his decades-old Rocky Balboa persona in a supporting role, one that hit nearly as hard as life. He lost to Mark Rylance for Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies,” a terrific film and performance. Rylance was deserving. So was Stallone. A choice was made. The end.

This is the first year I wished I had treated the Oscars like the NFL draft. Skip the show and read the results. Hopefully, next year is better. The 93rd Academy Awards were a flop.