Culture 26/04/2021

10 (+1) best moments of Oscars night

From Frances McDormand's howl to Glenn Close's twerking and Youn Yuh-jung's flirting live with Brad Pitt

4 min
Actresses Frances McDormand and Youn Yuh-jung, winners of the Expensive Bear for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress

BarcelonaThe Oscars were held early this morning in an unusual gala, with different venues and filmed like a movie. The winners were Frances McDormand and Nomadland and, despite the party's coldness, it has given these moments for posterity.

1. Fran's howl

"And, with all of you, Fern," said Chloé Zhao to make way for the star of Nomadland, Frances McDormand. "No, I'm Fran," she corrected with her best unfriendly face. And she followed up with an appeal to see the film "on the biggest screen possible". "One day, when it's possible, take everyone you know to a theatre to see all the movies playing tonight." And, without further ado, she added, "This is for our wolf" and let out a big howl that's a tribute to Michael Wolf Snyder, sound editor for Nomadland who committed suicide this year.

2. Criticism of a classic

A more joking Harrison Ford than usual settled some old scores with the Oscars and, before presenting the award for best editing, rescued the "editing notes" sent for one of his films. "Why is the voiceover so awful, are they all on drugs? The flashback was confusing. Do we need a third edit? The synagogue music is awful. This movie gets worse with every screening." The movie was, of course, Blade Runner.

3. Flirting with Brad Pitt

"Mr. Brad Pitt, nice to meet you, where were you during the filming? That's how veteran Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung began her speech for the Best Supporting Actress award for Minari, a film co-produced by Pitt. Funny and brilliant, she laughed at the way Americans say her name and had a nice moment of recognition for her rival, Glenn Close. "How can I beat her? We can't compete." After winning the audience, she left on Brad Pitt's arm like a queen.

4. The sign language announcement

In a gesture of inclusivity, the Oscars have enlisted deaf actress Marlee Matlin, best known for her role as a political advisor in The West Wing to announce two of the awards in her own way, i.e. with sign language. But it would have worked better if in the first of the awards the producer had not cut Matlin to show the nominees at the precise moment when the actress was going to say the name of the winner in sign language. Ugly.

5. Denouncing police brutality

With the increasing politicisation of the Oscars, it is increasingly difficult to pinpoint the most political moment of a night that began with Regina King saying that "if things had gone differently in Minneapolis", where George Floyd's killer had just been tried, the actress would have come to the Oscars in "military boots". A good candidate would be the speech by Travon Free, director of the award-winning short film, Two distant strangers: "Today the police killed three people in this country. Tomorrow it will kill three more people, because that's the average number of people killed by the police in this country. And most of them are black. Don't be indifferent to our pain."

6. A bewildered mother

Another memorable moment was when Daniel Kaluuya, who won the Oscar for best supporting actor for Judas and the Black Messiah, in the midst of a solemn speech about Black Panther activist and leader Cold Hampton, the character he plays, let slip that he was very happy that his parents had conceived him. "My dad met my mom and they had sex, it's amazing, you know what I mean?" he exclaimed. His mother's expression as he commented on her sex life was quite a sight, while his sister simply took her hands to her head.

7. Bong Joon-ho returns... And his translator!

After being the big star of the previous Oscars, the director of Parasites, Bong Joon-ho, returned to the Oscars by satellite connection from Seoul to present the Oscar nominees for Best Director. He did it - and it could not be otherwise - in the company of Sharon Choi, the translator who accompanied him last year throughout the awards season and who we ended up loving almost as much as the Korean director.

8. Thomas Vinterberg and the memory of a daughter

Thomas Vinterberg made one of the most moving speeches when he picked up the Oscar for best international film for Another Round. The Danish director recalled how he lost his daughter Aida two months before shooting the film in a car accident in which the other driver was looking at his mobile phone. "We miss her and we love her. And we ended up making the film for her. It's her memorial. This is for you," he said pointing to the statuette

9. A funky tracking shot to start

The only moment in which we felt like we were watching a gala produced by the director of Ocean's Eleven was at the beginning, when the ceremony started with a long tracking shot of actress Regina King walking through Los Angeles Union Station and arriving to the main stage to open the Oscars ceremony while some seventies movie credits and a funky soundtrack created an expectation that the gala didn't quite satisfy.

10. The Oscars travel to Iceland

One of the moments of the night took place even before the gala began, in the Oscars preview, when the performance of one of the nominated songs was broadcast, Husavik, from the comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. The funny thing about the (pre-recorded) performance is that it was filmed in Husavik, the small Icelandic town that gives the song its title and that has been involved in the promotion of the film. The singer Molly Sandén went there to perform the song accompanied by a choir of Icelandic children.

Extra. Glenn Close twerking (yes, for real)

We don't know if it counts as the best or worst moment of the night, but it's clear that it was the most viral. When the Oscars were on the home stretch, the presenter Lil Rel Howery organised a kind of contest to guess the fate of some black music soundtracks at the Oscars. Neither Andra Day nor Daniel Kaluuya got their songs right, but lo and behold, Glenn Close did identify the theme Da butt from the soundtrack of the film Troubled Classrooms by Spike Lee, and she celebrated it by dancing and shaking her ass. Not that she did it badly, but it was a gag so scripted to manufacture a meme with the image of the actress twerking that, deep down, it was lazy.

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