93rd Academy Awards | A painful show

The Academy Awards, broadcast Sunday night live from Union Station in Los Angeles, celebrated a lineup of very deserving winners (long live Chloe Zhao, Frances McDormand and Nomadland !). But interminable speeches, a cruel lack of rhythm, winners spread over several continents, a virtual absence of film extracts, works that have been little seen and a fishtail ending (the best actors after the best film? !) resulted in a pretty painful TV show. Boring Oscar Party Ever? I was not there in 1934, but it is possible.

A thought for George Floyd

Without a host, the evening began with an entry into the cinematographic scene. Regina King, actress and filmmaker of One Night in Miami, arrived in Union Station with a determined step, as if she were shooting the scene of a film by Steven Soderbergh entitled Oceans 21. From the outset, she spoke of the social climate in recent months in the United States. “We mourn the deaths of so many people. If things had turned out differently this week in Minneapolis, I would have exchanged my high heels for walking boots, ”she said, referring to the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd. “As a mother of a black son, I know the fear that so many people live with, and neither money nor notoriety can change that,” she said of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Zoom out

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, called in to boost Oscar ceremony, promised it wouldn’t look like a reunion Zoom between more or less famous colleagues. He kept his word. The more relaxed and intimate atmosphere of the evening, with its plan of round tables, evoked that of the Golden Globes. On the other hand, there was a sorely lack of extracts to highlight the films, and the rhythm was often lacking. We presented a short World Vision-type documentary before presenting a humanitarian award, in a setting that resembled the lobby of a Days Inn. In the process, the director of Parasite, Bong Joon-ho, presented from Seoul the five finalists for the Oscar for best achievement. At length. In Korean. With an interpreter. I dare not imagine how many viewers must have taken down at this precise moment.


Speeches with a socio-political flavor dominated this evening, during which the laureates were not cut off with the usual ritornello. “On average, police kill three people a day in the United States, which works out to about 1,000 people a year. These victims are disproportionately black people, ”recalled Travon Free, one of the Oscar winners for short fiction for Two Distant Stangers, original and disturbing work, quoting James Baldwin and appealing to everyone to be less indifferent. “Thank you to our ancestors, who were refused places, but who never gave up,” declared the first black winner of the Oscar for best costumes and make-up, Mia Neal, for My Rainey’s Black Bottom. “Someday a black trans woman will be on this stage, and it won’t be unusual or revolutionary. It will just be normal. ”

Laughter and crying

She was adorable, Yuh-jung Youn, going to pick her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the equally adorable Minari. “I’m luckier than you!” she told her co-finalists. It must be American hospitality for Koreans. Thanks to my sons for pushing me to work! At the other end of the emotional spectrum, Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg, Oscar winner for best international film for Breathalyzer, spoke of the death of her 19-year-old daughter in a car accident, two months before filming began. “We miss her and love her,” he said, very moved. She had to be in the movie. Maybe she’s here with us and she’s applauding. This award is for her. It’s a miracle. You are part of this miracle. My father’s heart sank.

With no mask

During the entire ceremony, there was hardly any talk of a pandemic. As if COVID-19 were just a fictional disaster movie. The 200 finalists have all been vaccinated, tested and retested, Regina King assured in the early evening. Angela Bassett spoke about the victims of the pandemic briefly at the end of the gala, in a very theatrical presentation of the missing of the year. All the protocols have also been respected, as on a movie set. A rebel before the Eternal, actress Frances McDormand decided to keep her face covering throughout the gala, perhaps to remind everyone that we are not out of the woods. What one would not have guessed during the incredible musical quiz concocted by the musical director of the ceremony, Questlove, and the swaying hips of Glenn Close.

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93rd Academy Awards | A painful show

Hank Gilbert