Oscars 2021: Historic wins for Chloé Zhao and ‘Nomadland’ overshadowed by multiple misfires

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Chloé Zhao accepts the Oscar for Best Director at the 93rd Academy Awards. Her film “Nomadland” also won Best Picture. Photo courtesy of The Oscars/ABC

Oscars producers had told viewers to expect something different in this year’s ceremony. They delivered on that promise, but not in a way people liked. The show delivered just under 10 million viewers, the lowest ever for an Academy Awards telecast.

For a pandemic-era Oscars, producers Steven Soderbergh, Jesse Collins and Stacey Sher created a much smaller, more intimate affair than in years past and held the event at LA’s Union Station. 

They also changed the order the awards were presented — the final award was Best Actor instead of Best Picture. The plan was clearly for Chadwick Boseman to win posthumously and for the night to go out on an emotional note. Instead, Anthony Hopkins won for the “The Father.” Hopkins is 83 years old and was asleep in Wales as the award was presented, so there was no final speech. Hopkins posted a short speech on his Instagram account this morning. 

Other miscues came around a segment with Glenn Close doing “Da Butt” dance, which was fun in the moment, but turned out to be a scripted bit.  That meant the In Memoriam segment had to be rushed, which felt particularly off in a year when the industry has lost so many people.  

Viewers also complained about the shortage of movie clips and filmed montages. For a celebration of a visual medium, they were relatively few things to look at. Instead, the nominees were given longer verbal descriptions and speeches were allowed to run as long as the winners wanted, which made the entire show drag. 

There were historic moments — Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to win Best Director and Best Picture. But that news has been censored in her home country of China because she allegedly made past statements that were critical of the government.



Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker