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A Strange Year Gets the Strange Oscars It Deserves

In the strangest of all awards years, what occurred on the stage of L.A.’s Union Station on Sunday night time was by turns predictable and weird and fairly unusual.

Predictable as a result of Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland” was the large winner; uncommon as a result of the late Chadwick Boseman misplaced to Anthony Hopkins for Best Actor, turning what the producers little question thought can be an emotional second right into a puzzling one, because the award was the ultimate one of many night time and Hopkins didn’t even present as much as settle for it. Predictable as a result of producers Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins reworked the same old extravaganza right into a extra intimate, COVID-compliant present with a number of satellite tv for pc hyperlinks; uncommon as a result of their concept of streamlining the Oscars concerned longer introductions and longer speeches, however lower out the same old movie clips and virtually every little thing else and nonetheless managed to be the shortest Oscar telecast in eight years.

And in a means, there was a shock ingredient even to the “Nomadland” win. The end result doesn’t shock anybody after Chloé Zhao’s lyrical highway film received the Golden Globe, Producers Guild, Directors Guild and BAFTA Awards — and the steamroller for the quiet drama had been within the works since September, when the movie received the jury prize on the Venice Film Festival and the viewers award on the Toronto International Film Festival.

But that, in a means, was the same old factor concerning the victory — as a result of movies which might be Oscar favorites in September virtually by no means dangle onto their front-runner standing for the same old six-month awards season, a lot much less this yr’s elongated eight-month marathon.

As early favorites like “The Irishman” and “A Star Is Born” and “Roma” and “La La Land” and “Boyhood” can all testify, a wire-to-wire victory shouldn’t be straightforward: The final movie to do it might need been “12 Years a Slave” in 2013-14, or “The Artist” in 2011-12, or “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2008-09.

But this was an awards season during which momentum was onerous to come back by, as a result of the rooms during which momentum is generated and buzz is bred and nurtured — crowded awards exhibits, theater lobbies, post-screening receptions — had been empty. In a digital awards season, it was more durable for rivals to “Nomadland” to fire up consideration, so the movie that appeared like a default entrance runner in October seemingly solidified into an unbeatable one by March.

Or did it? That was one of many many bizarre issues concerning the season — that we by no means actually obtained a way of how Academy voters had been considering, other than scattered and unreliable accounts, or perhaps a sense of what number of had been voting and whether or not they had been the same old Stateside voters or the more and more massive variety of worldwide members.

oscars 2021

In the top, “Nomadland” was two issues without delay: It was a formidable accomplishment from a daring director, which made it the form of movie that has nearly all the time received Best Director in recent times; and it was an intimate, private and splendidly well-performed drama of the type that usually claimed the Best Picture prize. Only three movies had received each image and director within the earlier eight years, however “Nomadland” had what it took to hitch “Parasite,” “The Shape of Water” and “Birdman” in that group. And whereas it misplaced in classes the place you might need anticipated it to win — cinematography and tailored screenplay — its recognition gave Frances McDormand the sting over Carey Mulligan, Viola Davis and Andra Day in essentially the most aggressive class of the night time, Best Actress.

Apart from “Nomadland” and McDormand, who all the time is aware of what to say and the best way to say it, the largest winners of the night time had been “The Father,” which took an enormous screenplay award over “Nomadland” at first of the night time and an even bigger Best Actor prize, for Anthony Hopkins, on the finish of the present, when most individuals had been anticipating an emotional win for Boseman.

Netflix, which didn’t win the large…

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