The 94th Academy Awards has come and gone, with all the usual (predictable and expected winners) and not-so-usual (some surprises, that shocking Will Smith slap!) suspects. The slap aside, the show itself has already been plagued by controversy after the eight categories cut from the live telecast. This includes Best Film Editing, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Sound, Documentary Short, Animated Short and Live-Action Short. Now, keep reading as we summarise our analysis about this year’s Oscars.
1) “Dune” Was The Big Winner
Denis Villeneuve’s first chapter of the two-parter “Dune” ruled this year’s Oscars with the most wins, bringing home a total of six awards out of 10 nominations. All of them came from the technical categories and I must say they were well-deserved victories. “Dune” is a technical marvel of sight and sound and watching it on IMAX was truly an immersive cinematic experience. So, I’m happy to see winners like Hans Zimmer and Greig Fraser win their respective Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Cinematography.
2) Disney Won The Best Animated Feature Film Category… Again?
It’s not that I’m against Disney for bringing home the Oscar for the aforementioned category for the third time in a row. Their last two Oscar wins were “Toy Story 4” and “Soul”. But “Encanto”? It may be a critically beloved hit but for all the grounded magical-realism approach and John Leguizamo’s scene-stealing turn as Bruno, I personally found “Encanto” hugely overrated. The movie lacks memorable musical numbers. Even the story itself doesn’t deliver the kind of dramatic poignancy that I would expect in “Encanto”. I guess I’m one of the minorities here. If it’s up to me, I would pick Netflix’s “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” for the win, one of the best animated features of 2021 that combines dynamic visuals and relatable love-hate family dynamics.
3) One Of The Worst Bond Songs In Recent Memory Won An Oscar
I’m not sure what the members of the academy were thinking when they gave the Oscar for Best Original Song to Billie Eilish for “No Time to Die”. Seriously, it was one of the worst Bond themes I’ve ever heard. It was unremarkable and somehow lacks the heart and soul. I figured a sombre song like this would be better off if given to, say Adele (she previously contributed the “Skyfall” theme). Beyoncé would be a better choice here for her powerful ballad “Be Alive” from “King Richard”.
4) “The Power Of The Dog” Only Won A Single Oscar
Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog” may have led this year’s Oscars with 12 nominations. But come Oscar night, it only managed to muster a single win, which was the Best Director award given to Jane Campion. She was previously nominated in the same category nearly 30 years ago for “The Piano” but ultimately lost to Steven Spielberg for “Schindler’s List”. Ironically, Spielberg happened to be one of this year’s Best Director nomination shortlist for “West Side Story”. Only this time, he lost to her.
5) Will Smith Finally Won An Acting Oscar!
This year’s Oscars in the Best Actor category has a few strong contenders. This includes Benedict Cumberbatch for “The Power of the Dog’, Andrew Garfield for “tick, tick…BOOM!” and Will Smith for “King Richard”. I’m glad the academy chose the latter and it was undoubtedly a long-overdue win for Will Smith. Previously nominated in the same category for “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happyness”, his remarkable performance as father-tennis coach Richard Williams in “King Richard” is one for the ages.
But it was also an unexpectedly bad night for Smith after he made headlines for slapping Chris Rock during the live telecast following Rock’s insensitive joke over his wife’s (Jada Pinkett Smith) shaved bald head.
6) A Predictable Win In The Best Costume Design Category
Disney’s live-action “Cruella” landed two Oscar nominations including Best Costume Design and Best Makeup & Hairstyling. While it lost the latter to “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, at least the academy made the right choice for the former. The well-deserved Best Costume Design award marks the third-time victory for Jenny Beavan after “A Room with a View” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”.
7) Jessica Chastain Scored Her First Acting Oscar
Jessica Chastain is one of the great actresses of her time. Sure, she may have faltered in several duds like “Mama”, “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” and “The 355”. But she also excelled in notable movies like “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Molly’s Game”, just to name a few. A twice Oscar nominee in the acting category (“The Help”, “Zero Dark Thirty”), she finally went home with her first Oscar for her virtually unrecognisable role — thanks to the heavy prosthetics — as the real-life wife of Christian televangelist, Tammy Faye in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”. This wasn’t the first time an actress like her who underwent dramatic transformations took home an Oscar. Among previous Oscar winners include Nicole Kidman for “The Hours”, Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady” and Charlize Theron for “Monster”.
8) “West Side Story” Went Home With Only One Win
What a far cry in terms of the numbers of Oscar wins compared to the 1961 version of “West Side Story”. Back then, it made Oscar history as the only musical film to win the most awards (10 in total) including Best Picture and Best Director. Steven Spielberg’s 2021 remake may have been nominated with seven Oscars but it could only score a single win for Best Supporting Actress. And that single win in question happens to be Ariana DeBose for her feisty turn as Anita — the same category that Rita Moreno previously won in the 1961 version.
9) No Oscar Love For “Nightmare Alley”
By right, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise since “Nightmare Alley” was always seen as a dark horse. I personally like the movie very much (it was among Guillermo del Toro’s best ones to date following his multiple Oscar wins in “The Shape of Water”) and I figured the Oscars would pull an upset or two. Well, that didn’t happen as “Nightmare Alley” failed to bring home any single Oscar.
10) “CODA” Made Oscar History As The First Streaming Movie To Win Best Picture
For months, it looked as if Netflix could finally win the prestigious Oscar for Best Picture for “The Power of the Dog”. Besides, the last time the streaming giant came close to winning it was “Roma” but it lost to “Green Book”. Too bad the tables have turned (personally, I still couldn’t figure out why “The Power of the Dog” received such near-universal praise, despite some well-acted performances). Instead, the Best Picture Oscar went to Apple TV+’s feel-good and poignant dramedy about a deaf family, “CODA”, making it the first streamer ever to win the top honour.
Enjoyed the article? You also might want to read this if you have yet to check out “King Richard”: