Like all awards ceremonies, the Academy Awards looked a little different this year.
Though most nominees attended in person (not a single Zoom-from-the-living-room), the mood was pretty sombre — no funny opening monologue, no host and few choreographed sketches.
Here are some of the key moments, from the controversial ending to Glenn Close’s unexpected twerking.
If it were a movie, the ending would get zero stars
Usually at the Oscars, the ceremony ends with the Best Picture award.
But this year, with the event’s directors hoping for a more cinematic feel to the broadcast (which has seen its ratings fall dramatically in recent years), they rearranged things and ended with the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
The thinking was this may be well be won posthumously by Chadwick Boseman, the star of Black Panther and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, who died of cancer last year.
That might well have made for a touching final salute to the late actor. It worked well at the Golden Globes in February, with Boseman’s widow tearfully accepting an award on his behalf.
But Boseman did not win. Anthony Hopkins did, for his role in The Father. And Hopkins was not at the ceremony to accept it.
“The Academy congratulates Anthony Hopkins and accepts the Oscar on his behalf,” presenter Joaquin Phoenix said.
And that was that. Cut to a camera seemingly embedded in the ceiling. Roll credits.
Not exactly a thrilling ending.
Nomadland was crowned the best film of the year
The quiet, atmospheric film about the lives of Americans displaced by an unforgiving economy was widely considered the front-runner for Best Picture … and there were no surprises in the end.
It beat Mank, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Judas and The Black Messiah, The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Father and Sound of Metal.
The film’s lead Frances McDormand took a moment to ask everyone to celebrate cinema in general.
“Please watch our movie on the largest screen possible,” she said. (The film did win the cinematography award, after all.)
“And one day, very soon, take everyone you know into a theatre, shoulder to shoulder in that dark space, and watch every film that’s represented here tonight.”
And with true Frances McDormand energy — she is known for generating viral Oscars moments — she then literally bayed to the moon like a wolf, a quirky bit that seemed like it came out of nowhere.
It was actually a tribute to Michael Wolf Snyder, a production sound mixer who worked on the film and who died shortly before its release.
Daniel Kaluuya shouted out his parents for having sex
Daniel Kaluuya took out the Best Supporting Actor award for his role as Fred Hampton, the Black Panther leader, in Judas and The Black Messiah.
The British actor thanked the cast and crew, and talked about the impact Hampton, the head of the Illinois chapter of the party, had in the community before his shooting death by police in 1969.
But as his speech continued, he seemed to just embrace the vibe and ad-lib.
“We have to celebrate life – we’re breathing and walking. It’s incredible,” he said.
“My mum and dad, they had sex, it’s amazing.”
Cut to a shot of Daniel’s Mum, in the crowd with Kaluuya’s sister, looking like anyone would if their sex life were suddenly the stuff of Oscars lore:
Cut to a shot, one week later, of a particularly awkward Kaluuya family dinner.
Chloe Zhao makes history
The Chinse-born director of Nomadland became the first woman of colour to win Best Director.
That category has historically been male-dominated — in fact, Zhao is only the second woman to win it, after Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2009.
In accepting the award, Zhao brought the earthy, hopeful and humanitarian energy that runs through her film to the Oscars stage.
She quoted a six-word line from a Chinese poem she and her father memorised when she was a kid.
“People at birth are inherently good.”
Zhao said her win was for “anyone who has the faith and courage to hold onto the goodness in themselves, and to hold onto the goodness in each other.”
A director dedicates his win to the daughter he lost
The Oscar for International Feature Film went to the Danish movie Another Round.
Director Thomas Vinterberg had adapted the film from a play he had written about drinking culture.
He was encouraged to do so by his daughter, Ida, who was slated to play one of the main roles.
But Ida was killed by a distracted driver in a road crash days after filming began.
“She was supposed to be in this and if anyone dares to believe that she’s here with us somehow, you’d be able to see her clapping and cheering with us,” Vinterberg said when receiving the award.
“We ended up making this movie for her — as her monument.
“So, Ida, this is a miracle that just happened, and you’re a part of this miracle — maybe even pulling some strings somewhere.”
Glenn Close danced to Da Butt
In one of the show’s few attempts at lightening the mood, the show’s DJ, Questlove, played a few songs and members of the audience were asked whether the tracks had won Oscars, been nominated, or been snubbed completely.
Glenn Close seemed to know a heap about Da Butt, the Experience Unlimited track from Spike Lee’s 1988 film School Daze.
Yes: that Glenn Close, one of Hollywood’s most revered and respected (though never recognised by the Academy) actresses.
She also knew the dance that gives the song its name — and was willing to demonstrate it.
It was the closest thing the event had to a good time.
This content was originally published here.