Inclusive but Disconnected: 2021 Academy Awards Roundup

The 93rd Oscars night came and went like the flash of the distanced cameras, despite their being unable to catch their favourite celebrities unless they were 2 metres apart. 

It was not the best night for the Academy, with viewership down 58% on their usual numbers. Staying up on Twitter to watch announcements released by BFI and official film accounts on the unconnected celebrities positioned in various places such as BFI Southbank did not hold the same alluring glitz and glamour of one-location in LA’s dolby theatre.  

The night was not all gloom and doom, however. Highlights included Minari actor Youn Yuh-jung winning Best Supporting Actress with Brad Pitt waiting in the wings; in an impassioned and yet humble speech, Daniel Kaluuya thanked his parents for having sex. Glenn Close took away a well-deserved win, winning best ferocious twerk to 1988 dance move “Da Butt”.  

Well Deserved: Two Best Supporting Actor winners – Youn Yuh-jung and Brad Pitt (Image Credit: Vanity Fair)

Much was said in the press about the inclusivity of this years’ nominees and indeed small hops (if not leaps) were made in this direction. The second of all-time, yes – that’s right – second of all-time female director won Best Director and she was one of colour, Chloé Zhao. Her movie Nomadland, was been praised by some for its abandonment of tropes of previous Best Picture winners, especially their Bechdel Test failures. 

Other small victories were made, older actors were given more recognition, Anthony Hopkins eloquently dedicated his Best Actor Oscar to the late Chadwick Boseman despite the following controversy. Half of the acting awards were given out to people of colour (Daniel Kaluuya for Judas and the Black Messiah and the aforementioned Youn Yuh-jung for Minari). Two of the Best Director nominees were also people of colour (Zhao and Lee Chang Isaac for Minari). Sound of Metal, Falling Through and Crip Camp were all praised for their representation of disability.

Despite this, we must not forget that this year’s Oscars were largely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still devastating infrastructure in countries such as India and Brazil. Because of crucial restrictions in place in numerous parts of the world, many cinema-goers will not have been able to see many, if any, of the upper echelon of films chosen this year. 

As we edge closer to a fully vaccinated nation here in the UK, it is crucial that, as Frances McDormand said, we end up going to see the cream of the crop films that we missed out this year in cinemas when all is more safe and sound. Equal to this, if not of greater importance, is that we support our local independent cinemas as our government seems intent on cutting them down. As we return to those popcorn smelling seats, I am hopeful that the magic of cinema that powers these awards ceremonies and their discussions of inclusivity, will return.

Image Credit: Brig Newspaper