Whoa, Wow, To WTF: These Were The Scene-Stealers At The Oscars 2021

So, was the 93rd Academy Awards any special this year?

Promised to be “hopefully unique,” did the highly-anticipated Oscars 2021 live up to its hype? Well, if the anti-climactic end was any indication, not quite.

The show will go on. Not only is this a phrase of encouragement that all of entertainment holds close to its hearts, especially in theater or live television, but it also serves as a source of motivation in the midst of the pandemic. From productions either getting stalled or bravely (and cautiously) navigating changes, this fragment of fraternity has been most central to award shows, having been challenged by the physical limits of the global healthcare crisis. But just as it means, it was all systems go for every ceremony such as the Emmys, Golden Globes, Grammys, and of course, the Oscars 2021, except in uncharacteristically scaled down versions of what it once was.

oscars 2021

Proving to be quick on its feet, award shows adapted to the times, restructuring their prize-giving festivities to accommodate a healthy compromise of assembling virtually and in-person. Some shows managed to execute it better (the Emmys being the most note-worthy, which was produced very early on in the pandemic), while others clearly struggled with the hybrid of platforms, consideration of bandwidth, and the anticipated technical difficulties.

While no coming together of this sort, especially that in the name of entertainment, is without its fair share of hiccups and missteps even pre-pandemic, there is no going around the reality that until all things come to an end in terms of quelling the virus, this will be the way of the foreseeable future. This isn’t to say that we won’t be seeing the undertaking of high-profile, who’s who, and select few, reach the same glittering and glamorous heights as it did, but for now, no one is above the mandates and protocols—even the Oscars 2021.


So, Was This Year Any Different?

Taking its cues from awards shows that came before it, the Steven Soderbergh-produced Oscars 2021, which was “not going to be like anything that’s been done before” played out pretty much the same way in Los Angeles, except this time, the pre-shows and ceremonies were scattered across the world with hubs set up in London, and Paris. The still hostless awards show itself presented itself as a film, complete with an opening scene complete with the names of every A-lister starring in the undertaking listed onscreen as Regina King strutted to the stage inside Union Station with a fairly sparse and distanced audience.

“Live TV, here we go,” the Oscar-winning actress and newly minted director said following a near trip onstage. Fitted in a dazzling easter egg blue Louis Vuitton original, she would go on to explain the changes for the Oscars 2021, detailing the geographical simulcasts, mask on-mask off policy, and an overall shift from the glitzy shebang it typically is.

As valiant as the efforts were to re-envision the longstanding awards show that has sputtered and struggled in terms of relevance over recent years, nothing much has changed, really. While it did serve as a distraction and deflation to everything else that is going, at the end of the day, it still dragged on far longer than it should without anything groundbreaking. Sure, there were out-of-the-ordinary moments within, as it was expected from a production in the pandemic, but from what we saw, the Oscars 2021 didn’t quite live up to the promise of being “hopefully unique.” There were a lot of opportunities to make magic happen, production-wise, however, that didn’t quite make it to the air.

While it did start strong, slick, and streamlined, the intimate 93rd Academy Awards quickly lost its steam and revealed a curious, confusing, and clunky ceremony that proved to be a letdown instead of the significant shift that it could have been. Whomp, whomp.

Not all was a disappointment. From Whoa, wow, to WTF, we round up all the scene-stealing moments at the Oscars 2021 that still has everything talking.

Alan Kim Dancing On The Red Carpet

From the quiet expanse of Arkansas in the poignant picture of family, Minari, Alan Kim has proved to be the darling of the awards show season. From his adorable interviews to his heart-tugging acceptance speech at SAG awards, the breakout star was feeling extra cheerful at the Oscars 2021. Decked out in a custom signature Thom Browne look (blazer + shorts + long socks), the internet’s new son was not exempt from his chores as prior to being cute and dancing on the red carpet, he still had to walk his dog before the ceremony. (Stars, they’re just like us.)

Glenn Close And Yuh-jung Youn Meeting For The First Time

While they were competing in the same category all throughout awards show season, Glenn Close and Yuh-jung Youn formed a friendship. Where one had more grit and the other evoked grace in their respective films, it was their mutual admiration for each other that bonded them, which was fostered over many Zoom ceremonies and virtual interviews. Singing praises for each other at any given chance, the two finally met at the Oscars 2021 in the most charming and characteristic way possible.

With No Sweats In Sight, It Was Full On Fashion For The Guests

As explicitly stated, attending the 93rd Academy Awards meant dressing up in what was listed as “a fusion of inspirational and aspirational.” For anyone with at least a working brain cell, this was a euphemism for “don’t wear sweats.” For the most part, the fashion on the Oscars 2021 red carpet was a standout, especially for the men, who not only adhered to the dress code, but also explored and challenged the bounds of traditional menswear. Needless to say, everyone showed up. (The selection of hoodies from Jason Sudeikis was thoroughly missed. But Oscar-winning director, Chloé Zhao, arrived in a neutral knitted dress paired with sensible sneakers. You go, queen.)

A Pre-Show Mini Concert

Traditionally, the program of Academy Awards would include performances from the nominees for best song interspersed throughout the show. In the Ariana DeBose and Lil Rey Howery-hosted pre-show, Oscars: Into The Spotlight, viewers were treated to a mini concert featuring numbers from Molly Sanden (Húsavík from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga), Diane Warren and Lauren Pausini (io sì from The Life Ahead), Celeste and Daniel Pemberton (Hear My Voice from The Trial Of The Chicago 7), Leslie Odom Jr. (Speak Now from One Night In Miami), and H.E.R. (Fight For You from Judas And The Black Messiah).

The Oscars Opening Monologue Of Sorts, As Told By Regina King

She may have tripped on her way to the stage, but Regina King did not trip on her words as she began the Oscars 2021. ”We’re mourning the loss of so many,” she said, reminding everyone of the social and racial injustice persisting outside their bubble, particularly of the recent guilty verdict on Derek Chauvin.

Always a platform for the political, the One Night In Miami director reflected on the realities that ravage society, saying, “And I have to be honest, if things had gone differently this past week in Minneapolis, I might have traded in my heels for marching boots. Now, I know a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you, but, as a mother of a Black son, I know the fear that so many live, and no amount of no amount of fame and fortune changes that.”

Zendaya Wearing A Mask Even During The Ceremony

“Think of this as a movie set,” Regina King said, alluding to the strict safety protocols that are now standard of many close-contact industries, especially in film and television. While the people in attendance were generally vaccinated, tested, and re-tested, the wearing of masks was required during commercial breaks. During the broadcast, some stars were seen with their masks on even during the show itself. At one point, we saw Zendaya wear her mask that masked her cheerfully yellow abdomen-baring dress regardless. Yes, she’d like to keep it on, please.

Women Of Color Winning And Making Her-Story

“I can picture Black trans women standing up here. And Asian sisters. And our Latina sisters. And indigenous women. And I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking. It will just be normal,” expressed Mia Neal as she became the first black woman to win an Oscar for Hair and Makeup with Jamika Wilson and alongside Sergio Lopez-Rivera. The night would progress with even more women and women of color collecting well-deserved accolades, including Emerald Fennell, HER, and the second female and first woman of color to win the best director award at the Oscars 2021 for Nomadland.

Rounding up her speech together with Anthony Giacchino for the Academy Award for the short documentary, Colette, Alice Doyard said, “This award and this film is a tribute to women everywhere in the world, of any ages, who are joining hands and [fighting] for justice.”

Glenn Close Dancing Her Butt Off

While she chalked up another loss to her list of eight Academy Award nominations, the inimitable Glenn Close still won the night, capturing the hearts of everyone in attendance at the Oscars 2021 and those trawling the internet as she well, busted a move. In a game of Guess That Song by QuestLove and Lil Rey Howery, the Hillbilly Elegy star who was sparkling in Armani Privé was asked a question about the song, Da Butt.

“Wait a second, I know—that’s the Da Butt,” she declared to an obviously impressed room.”It was a classic song by the great Washington, D.C. go-go band E.U. (Experience Unlimited)…” Dropped even more knowledge on the track Spike Lee written track for his film, School Dazed, Glenn Close would soon relent and shook her groove thang. Cruella has got some moves, yo.

Frances McDormand And Nomadland’s Wolf Call

“Ladies and gentlemen, Fern,” director Chloé Zhao said, pointing to the effervescent leader of the Nomadland pack, Frances McDormand. An obvious reference to the TikTok-popular introduction of HER by Adele, the gravity of the graceful story of identity and introspection as compelled by loss and grief, started an animalistic call, enjoining the rest of their group as if they were wolves howling at a fictitious moon. Awoo.

The Anti-Climactic End

For a show of promise and possibility, the Oscars 2021 would eventually fizzle out after this surprisingly refreshing first act. A nice touch was the fact that the awardees were allowed to indulge in their acceptance speeches without fear of being drowned out by an orchestra. But for all its sporadic bright spots, it would miss out on all its potential, including an odd reshuffling of categories at the far-end of the show, which saw the best picture (Nomadland) being awarded before best actress (Frances McDormand) and best actor (Anthony Hopkins). While well-deserved for his stellar showing as a man spiraling from his own reality, the win of Anthony Hopkins was eclipsed by laments of Chadwick Boseman being snubbed posthumously for his soul-stirring and transcendent performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. How anti-climactic was that?