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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

Oscars 2021 Recap: A Breath of Fresher Air

In the era of COVID-19, the 91st Academy Awards were a disorganized but crucial night for the western film industry.

In one of the most informal and surreal Oscar nights, records were broken and everyone was reminded of the importance of social interaction. Regina King boldly kicked off the event, being one of the only people who would be able to make the 91st Academy Awards more enjoyable. King was nominated for three awards herself after having made her directorial debut with “One Night In Miami.” She begun by acknowledging many of the lives lost in 2020, specifically tackling the issue of racial discrimination and brutality at the hands of the police. 

“We are mourning the loss of so many, and I have to be honest, if things had gone differently this past week in Minneapolis I may have traded in my heels for marching boots.”

Three-time nominee and presenter Regina King stunning the red carpet at the 91st Academy Awards. (Photo courtesy of Chris Pizzello-Pool, Getty Images)

She sincerely spoke to everyone watching, going on to say “I know that 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 with, and no amount of fame or fortune changes that, OK?”

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This year, the nominees made up one of the most diverse groups in history, with 70 women nominated in 23 different categories, and nine people of color being nominated for acting. 

“The Oscars were called out for being white-dominated, and they tried to clear their name quickly. It was nice to see a representation of a large crowd, though,” said junior Maika Suaya.

The Academy had seen recent backlash, with many people noting that many of their nominees and winners were white. This year, it was clear that they had realized what type of effect this could have on their image. They tried to solve this by including many films created by diverse groups of people, having films like “Nomadland” and “Minari” deservedly dominate categories all-around.

“I liked the variations of films for the nominees. There were a lot of new titles,” said Suaya. However, she went on to say “Nomadland, Minari, and a few others got a couple of nominations everywhere.”

“Nomadland” was nominated for six awards and took home four, with one of them being best director. Chloé Zhao was the first woman of color to be nominated for and win the award, also taking best picture as one of the producers of the film. 

“Minari” received six nominations as well, but only Yuh-Jung Youn became the first Korean actor, male or female, to win an Academy award. In one of the best speeches of the night, Yuh-Jung Youn accepted her Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Youn joked around with the audience, Academy, and “Minari” producer Brad Pitt, telling him “Finally nice to meet you! Where were you when we were filming?” She later mentioned the actors who were nominated alongside her, saying that maybe her win is “American hospitality for the Korean actor.” Youn’s speech was a sigh of relief, reminding everyone watching that comfort can still be found in the western film industry.

Yun-Jung Youn accepting her award and making history as the first Korean actor to win an Oscar. (Photo courtesy of ABC/AMPAS).

Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson also marked history Sunday night, becoming the first Black women to be nominated and awarded best makeup and hairstyling for their work on “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” 

“I really liked the make-up award winners. They did an amazing job on the film,” said Suaya.

The night also served to remind people of the lives lost this year, to lives lost to the violence of inequality, injustice, hatred, racism and poverty,” as Angela Bassett mentioned in her introduction for the “In Memoriam.” Before Bassett spoke on the topic, Regina King had mentioned the Derek Chauvin trials at the beginning of the ceremony, and Tyler Perry told the audience to “refuse hate” in his heartfelt speech accepting the Academy award for his short “Two Distant Strangers,” which centers around the story of a Black man being killed by a white police officer.

Daniel Kaluuya, the “Get Out” protagonist that has been building up his repertoire for years, was finally awarded an Oscar as well. He accepted the best supporting actor Academy Award as the first non-white British winner for his role as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in Judas and The Black Messiah, a film that received five nominations. He delivered a humorous speech, thanked his parents and prompted many laughs from the audience, his mother, and his sister.

Kaluuya pictured with his record-breaking award, expected to be one of many more.(Photo courtesy of Reuters).

Frances McDormand reminded us of life pre-pandemic while she accepted the award for best picture, urging everyone to watch “Nomadland,” which she co-produced, “Please, watch our movie on the largest screen possible,” she said. “And one day, very, very soon, take everyone you know into a theater, shoulder to shoulder, in that dark space, and watch every film that is represented here tonight.” She finished her speech by howling, a touch that could not have been less surprising after the year of 2020.

“Nomadland” actress Frances McDormand accepting the best picture award, with director Chloe Zhao emotionally watching her (Photo courtesy of ABC News). 

After presenting the award that should have been the finale of the ceremony, the real end was long-awaited. Anthony Hopkins became the oldest actor to win best actor, which he was awarded for his performance in “The Father.” The announcement was not received well by the audience nor the general public, as most people expected the late Chadwick Boseman to receive the award for his work in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

The event was over shortly after the let-down, (unsurprisingly) ending abruptly. The general informality and lack of organization made the night uncharacteristic of the academy, but was still crucial for many people. The Oscars this year marked an important night for many, scratching the surface of the representation that has been necessary for decades. Many actors and winners of the night were beacons of hope for the future, reminding us to be grateful and optimistic for the future. 

“It let us see what we have. It was a disappointing night overall, but it was important to a lot of people,” said Suaya.

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