Saturday, October 16, 2021

Pandemic affects Academy Awards

Natalie St. Denis

The 93rd annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, had the lowest audience to date. Only 9.8 million Americans tuned into the ceremony April 25, which was more than a 50% decrease from 2020.

The lack of viewers could be attributed to the fact that many Americans missed the opportunity to view films due to the pandemic, which shut down movie theaters. The Oscars were originally scheduled for Feb. 28, but due to the pandemic the show was delayed until April. Despite that, the show went on. In fact, the show went on a little too long, as it always does.

The Oscars have always struggled to stay within their allotted three hour air time. In 2019, the ceremony lasted almost four and a half hours — the longest in its history. This year the ceremony was more than three hours long.

Regardless, the night showcased the talented people of Hollywood. History was made when Chloe Zhao became the first woman of color to win an Oscar for directing. Zhao also received the most nominations in a single year, more than any other woman in Oscar history.

Yuh-Jung Youn won Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Minari.” She was the first Korean actor to win any Oscar.

The diversity seen at the Oscars this year was a much needed change from the past. Previous movements against the ceremony were prevalent on social media like, #OscarsSoWhite. The Academy Awards always advocate for diversity, but this is rarely put into action. This year showed the potential the ceremony has to include more diversity, but it can still do better.

Throughout the long night were a few laugh-worthy moments to keep things lively, like Daniel Kaluuya’s awkward speech tribute to his mother in attendance. Kaluuya played Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah”’ and won Best Supporting Actor. When he gave his speech, he seemed to run out of things to say and appeared nervous.

“Celebrate life, man,” Kaluuya said. “We are breathing, we are walking, it’s incredible. My mum and my dad, they had sex. It’s amazing that I’m here! So I’m going to celebrate that tonight.”

The cameras showed his mother in the crowd mouthing, “What is he talking about?” His sister laughed and covered her face.

The night concluded with an awkward upset. Chadwick Boseman, known for his role in “Black Panther,” passed away last year after battling colon cancer. Boseman was expected to win best actor for his role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” But instead 83-year-old Anthony Hopkins, who starred in “The Silence of the Lambs” received the award for his role in “The Father.”

Watchers took to social media to express their frustrations.

“I loved the intimate setting of the Oscars this year and was impressed that the pace felt GOOD. But dear lord the end was a flop. And now knowing it was all to set up for a tribute to Chadwick which didn’t even come to fruition….that feels so cheap and dirty by the producers,” tweeted @mediocrehuman1 on Twitter.

Boseman’s brother, Derrick Boseman, had an optimistic opinion in an interview with TMZ. He said Boseman wasn’t one to put too much value on the Oscars anyway. An Oscar would have been an achievement, but never an obsession.

The film industry should be commended for their efforts on screen but also for the extreme precautions they dealt with while filming during a pandemic. Actors had to go through temperature checks upon arriving to set everyday and often had to get tested for COVID-19 multiple times a week.

The pandemic also forced society to reinvent the ways in which entertainment is consumed. The public relied on streaming services to keep up to date with new movies. Consumers around the world may have had at home movie nights with their friends virtually, instead of going out to see a movie in the theaters.

Watch party apps like “Teleparty,” previously known as “Netflix Party,” allows viewers to watch a movie on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, or Disney+ and share the link for friends to join. The movie is synced for all to view and there is a sidebar chat function. According to TVTech, 25 million people took part in some sort of watch party during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the entertainment industry as a whole made strides in showing how adaptable the industry is, even during a pandemic. The Oscars was an opportunity to showcase this talent. Along with that, strides were also made in diversifying the nominees and winners.

The Academy Awards still has a long way to go. The talents of minority groups should be showcased and not left in the shadows while white men steal their spotlight

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