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Were the 2021 Oscars Actually Kind of Good in a Weird, Robert Altman–ish Way?

Vanity Fair
 2021-04-27

Cover picture for the articleThe general verdict amongst my Twitter feed on Sunday’s re-engineered Oscars ceremony is that it was bizarre and unsettling. Having stripped the ceremony of its mini-performances and instead focused on handing out the trophies in an oddly shuffled order, otherwise beloved Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh, and his coproducers Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins, constructed these Academy Awards as something else entirely. Held in Los Angeles’ Union Station, which had to be evacuated of its usual residents—the houseless, whom the city of Los Angeles continually refuses to house—in order to accommodate Hollywood’s glittering stars, the 2021 Oscars may have been fraught from the start. That dark energy was offset at times by an opening strut and stirring speech from Regina King, a quiz show from Lil Rel Howery, and a bit of booty shaking from Glenn Close. But consider that the thing the ceremony is meant to celebrate is movies. And movies, at their brightest and most arresting, are often troubling little affairs. They’re expensive productions that result not merely in entertainment but some kind of audio-visual puzzle you can’t stop playing. And this year, the Oscars ceremony, sitting in the thick of its own mess, might have tried its hand at cinema.

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