Oscar Gold 2021 – Live Diary

It’s finally here! After the worst year ever and two extra months of anticipation, it’s finally time for the Oscars! At long last we can answer the truly burning questions. Who will win? What jokes will make us roll our eyes? Does anyone care about the dresses? The answer to the last one is its own question, namely, will any of those dresses end up on my bedroom floor? If so, yes. If not, then hell to the no. We’re here to honor the best in film, not fellate multi-millionaire designers.

As I create this post, we’re about 30 minutes from the beginning of the ceremony. I will be updating this as we go, chiming in with any thoughts that pop up in my addled brain. I’ll also be updating the official Twitter feed (follow @actually_paid) in hopes of bringing more fans into the fold. Or I could be inviting a flame war. Who knows? All I know is you can’t cancel what’s not already a thing, so I have no fear going into tonight’s proceedings.

If you want a quick primer on how I think the evening will go, give yourself a few minutes to read the official predictions for tonight’s results. Otherwise, strap in, grab a potable of your choosing, and let’s do this!

5:00pm PDT: HERE WE GO!

5:01pm: The heist movie-style opening credits was interesting, and would probably be more so if we weren’t doing half of this in a train station.

5:02pm: Pandemics and George Floyd. Way to start things off on a high note, Regina!

5:04pm: Am I the only one with this weird letterboxing on my TV?

5:05pm: Gotta love the Lucas Bros. showing up with baseball caps to go with their tuxedos!

5:07pm: Wait, we were handing out the first award? I thought this was just a monologue!

5:07pm: Emerald Fennell didn’t write a speech because she never thought she’d ever win… even though she’s swept the awards circuit apart from the Golden Globes? The fuck outta here!

5:12pm: The conceit of the monologues of the writers’ backstories goes completely to shit as Regina King just reads out the numerous nominees for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm rather than giving us any insight into their histories. Production fail!

5:13pm: By the way, I’m two-for-two so far, as the Writing categories are dispensed with surprisingly early. Promising Young Woman gets Original and The Father wins Adapted.

5:19pm: Holy shit, Laura Dern, that dress is atrocious! Did you murder Bjork’s swan gown and decide to just wear the bottom half? Also, why is Laura Dern presenting International Feature? It’s traditional for the last Supporting Actress winner to give out Supporting Actor!

5:22pm: You guys do realize the point of International Feature is that the movie isn’t in English, right? So why was the clip from Quo Vadis, Aida? 99% in English?

5:22pm: Three-for-three as Another Round wins International Feature!

5:25pm: I’m glad that the production has gotten rid of the “play-off” music and the time limit on speeches, because if you don’t know about the tragedy behind Thomas Vinterberg’s film, you need to hear him talk about it.

5:26pm: Oh NOOOWWWWWW you acknowledge tradition by having Laura move on to Supporting Actor.

5:27pm: These laudatory introductions remind me of the ceremony a few years ago when the presenter spent two minutes verbally fellating all the nominees. It sucked then, and it sucks now, because it feels like the Academy is leaning into the criticism about Hollywood congratulating itself rather than fixing the problem.

5:30pm: Four-for-four as Daniel Kaluuya takes Supporting Actor. He deserved his Oscar for Get Out, and he deserved to be nominated for Best Actor instead of Supporting, but no matter what, he deserves to be in the fraternity of Oscar-winning actors!

5:32pm: It’s a testament to how great of an actor Daniel Kaluuya is that I bet half the people reading this didn’t ever realize that this was his real voice!

5:35pm: “My mom and my dad, they had SEX! It’s amazing!” -Daniel Kaluuya. Quote of the night!

5:35pm: I hate that they remade West Side Story. Did All the King’s Men and Rebecca teach you nothing?

5:36pm: Also, this is bullshit to include a trailer for films inside the Oscar ceremony. You’re prejudicing voters for next year by outright endorsing something as quality before it even comes out. That’s Golden Globe bullshit, not the Oscars!

5:40pm: Doing Hair & Makeup and Costume Design together implies the same result for both.

5:45pm: And so it is. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom takes both categories, and I’m six-for-six.

5:46pm: Um, I believe we were promised a Christopher Walken impression from Don Cheadle. What the hell? Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, Academy!

5:50pm: Not to diss the Humanitarian Award, but it’s weird to have Bryan Cranston on tape tossing to his own voice on another tape.

5:56pm: Wow! Best Director is so in the bag for Chloé Zhao that we’re handing it out in the FIRST HOUR?!?!?!?!?!

5:59pm: Seven-for-seven, and absolutely tragic misuse of Bong Joon-ho!

6:02pm: Oscars producer: Hey, what song should we use to go to commercial after Chloé Zhao wins the most foregone Best Director award ever?
Another Oscars producer: Why, “Live and Let Die” of course! Nothing says Nomadland like “Live and Let Die!”

6:05pm: I get the distinct impression there won’t be any real surprises tonight. If we can comfortably hand out Best Director in the first hour, you might as well just rattle off the rest, because there will be no drama.

6:06pm: And almost on cue to confirm that, here’s Riz Ahmed presenting Sound to his own movie!

6:12pm: The gold lamé pants and trim on the Two Distant Strangers nominees is kind of amazing. Also, nine-for-nine!

6:17pm: By the way, my “Participation Trophy” prediction for the evening as a whole seems to be going just as planned.

6:19pm: Sorry Reese, you can’t be cute when trying to “impersonate” someone tuning in over Zoom. It’s honestly really off-putting to hear her talk about Milk Duds and popcorn when describing someone whose favorite film was about suicide and who just won an Oscar for a film about school shootings.

6:23pm: Reese Witherspoon: I grew up watching The Secret of NIMH and learning about strong women, so here’s an Oscar for a movie about a dude!

6:26pm: We’re essentially halfway through now, and with Soul winning Animated Feature, I’m 11-for-11. I know it’s partly due to the rundown the producers create, but I don’t think I’ve ever gone this deep into the ceremony before without getting one wrong.

6:30pm: That said, we’re getting into the categories where I have legitimate doubt about the results, like Documentary Feature, Film Editing, Cinematography, and Production Design.

6:34pm: And no sooner do I mention this that we get our first upset. In a year where the themes of racial justice and police violence are fresh in our memories, Collette gets the win instead of A Love Song for Latasha. That said, today is the actual Collette’s birthday, so that might have had something to do with it, similar to the fact that the subject of The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life died the day before the voting deadline.

6:41pm: I blank on both Documentary categories. I figured the race/police narrative would win out, especially since Marlee Matlin introduced the group by noting the young woman who filmed George Floyd’s murder. But instead, we go with the mollusk.

6:48pm: Just a friendly reminder that My Octopus Teacher was the worst of the Documentary Feature nominees and 13th overall out of the shortlist of 15, at least from where I sit. I will never understand what this branch is thinking or what the Academy overall prioritizes when voting on this stuff.

6:49pm: As Steven Yeun awards Visual Effects, I will note that I do appreciate the overall efficiency of this broadcast. I wish we were getting the musical performances (I think they were shown in the pre-show as previously taped performances, but I didn’t watch), but the fact that we’re not only on-time, but ahead right now, is fairly refreshing.

6:51pm: Back on the winning side as Tenet takes Visual Effects! That makes me 12-for-14, and apart from Original Score and Best Picture, I think this is the last truly obvious winner. Best Actor and Supporting Actress are like 90% in the bag, but not guaranteed.

6:52pm: Speaking of, here’s Brad Pitt to award Supporting Actress.

6:53pm: I fully admit this is pervy, but we FINALLY get some hotness via Maria Bakalova and Amanda Seyfried! Hooray for BOO-oo-BIES!

6:54pm: Youn Yuh-jung wins Supporting Actress, which will likely be Minari‘s only win. Participation Trophy Night continues unabated! Her gushing over Brad Pitt is just darling!

6:57pm: Youn Yuh-jung: “How can I win over Glenn Close?” Uh, because Hillbilly Elegy sucked copious amounts of donkey balls? That’d be my guess, at least.

6:59pm: I tend to ignore the commercials, but Google is running an ad about My Octopus Teacher being a good film for kids and showing their reactions to it. Hey, show the reactions when the octopus dies. Try that shit out, see how happy and excited to learn they are.

7:01pm: Two hours in, and I’m 13-for15. Not too shabby with just eight more categories to go!

7:02pm: Okay, the letterboxing is getting REALLY annoying now, especially when the broadcast puts the Oscars logo over the picture and the black. What the hell?

7:04pm: Mank wins Production Design! That’s seven of the eight Best Picture nominees with a win. Just The Trial of the Chicago 7 without one so far, but I have a feeling that’s coming up with Film Editing.

7:07pm: Erik Messerschmidt gets the Cinematography win for Mank. He had picked up one award from the cinematographer’s union, but everything else went to Nomadland. I’m glad I got this wrong, because I loved Mank‘s camera work so much more than Nomadland, which was beautiful, but just a touch too simplistic for me. I’m now 14-for-17!

7:09pm: Look, I’m really looking forward to In the Heights. I’ve been looking forward to it since I first saw a trailer last year. But again, stop prejudicing the voters. Stop giving the Academy’s tacit stamp of approval on a film that has yet to be released!

7:14pm: Thank God Harrison Ford isn’t presenting Visual Effects after having to share the screen with that terrible CGI dog.

7:17pm: But what are the childhood movie-going anecdotes for the editors?

7:18pm: Sound of Metal breaks the tie and wins Film Editing! The Trial of the Chicago 7 will be the only Best Picture nominee to blank the night! Unless it pulls an upset for Original Song, it will be the only winless nominee.

7:21pm: “Tyler Perry personifies empathy.” Yeah, he also personifies shitty movies with men in fat suits.

7:30pm: I kid, but Perry did give a good speech, and I’m happy for his philanthropy. That said, I am curious as to how all of his films are about how some woman has to accept Jesus to be happy when his mom worked at the Jewish Community Center.

7:32pm: And Soul takes Original Score! I’m up to 15-for-19!

7:36pm: Jon Batiste: “God gave us 12 notes!” Can’t wait for next year when the Academy bends over backwards to give Original Song to Billie Eilish, who’s never used any of them.

7:37pm: They’re literally using clips from the same music videos I posted when I broke down the Original Song category. Wow, lazy!

7:38pm: Legitimate upset as H.E.R. takes Original Song for “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah! This song didn’t win anything during Awards Season. Never saw this coming. But most importantly, FUCK YOU, DIANE WARREN! GO AWAY FOREVER! And Academy, STOP NOMINATING HER!

7:42pm: And now the entire ceremony comes to a grinding halt as Lil Rel Howery plays a music trivia game. We’re less than 20 minutes from going over time, and we still have In Memoriam and three more awards to give out. We were efficient, and now everything screeches to a stop. We didn’t have time for the nominated songs to be performed, but we have time for this bullshit.

7:43pm: Andra Day just got ABC fined by the FCC by saying Prince got some pussy for “Purple Rain.” Outstanding.

7:45pm: Is Glenn Close saying “Da Butt” off-putting, or are you now Guy Pearce in Memento?

7:46pm: Glenn Close declares that “Da Butt” not getting nominated is a “fucking travesty,” and I would like to stop existing now, please.

7:47pm: God dammit, another trailer in the broadcast? Seriously? I almost want to boycott these films just on principle.

7:47pm: Also, you can’t show us a trailer and then tell us to go watch the trailer. LEARN HOW WORDS WORK, MOTHERFUCKERS!

7:50pm: There are moments of insight. There are moments of clarity. Then there’s Glenn Close twerking.

7:52pm: Angela Bassett’s introduction for In Memoriam, where she achingly talks about lives lost in tragedy, had to be joined in progress because commercials are way more important.

7:56pm: I’d note which late celebrities were left off the In Memoriam reel, but I couldn’t keep up with the fact that everyone except Sean Connery and Chadwick Boseman only got their name on screen for about five frames.

8:00pm: Wait, are we giving Best Picture away before Best Actor and Actress? What in the actual retail goddamn fuck?

8:01pm: I mean, this has to guarantee that Chadwick Boseman wins Best Actor, right? There’s no way they’d completely upset the top prize of the night without the intent to go out on a tribute and win for Chadwick, right?

8:05pm: To the surprise of none, Nomadland wins Best Picture. It’ll ultimately be forgotten, pretty much along with this entire set. But to not have it be the last award of the night? If that’s the Academy’s attempt at making this memorable, I don’t know what to say.

8:09pm: You know this has been a less than stellar year for our movies when Frances McDormand has to lead her acceptance speech for Best Picture with, “Please see our film.”

8:09pm: Hey, Diane Warren lost again, so let’s go to an ad break after Best Fucking Picture with her first terrible song to get nominated!

8:10pm: Hey, we forgot to present two categories! Don’t worry, we’ll come back from an ad break with “Don’t You Forget About Me.” They’ll love it, and won’t be at all infuriated.

8:11pm: I’d complain about having last year’s Best Actress winner give out Best Actress, but they’ve made a point of throwing out tradition this year.

8:12pm: And as soon as I type that last bit we return to tradition by giving Frances McDormand her third Oscar, complete with the shortest speech ever.

8:14pm: Oh good, Joaquin Phoenix is off his meds and just giving out an award rather than ranting about the environment for eight years on end without finishing a sentence.

8:15pm: That thud you heard was my jaw hitting the floor. Best Actor went to Anthony Hopkins. I’m not mad about that, he did a tremendous job. But if you’re going to completely upend the traditional order of the ceremony, including putting Best Actress and Best Actor AFTER Best Picture, there’d better be a reason. An ending tribute to Boseman would have been fine. But to give it to Hopkins, who wasn’t going to show up or Zoom was to go out on the loudest whimper possible, and it completely deflated the proceedings. Congratulations to Sir Anthony, but between him being a no-show and Frances McDormand giving the shortest acting acceptance speech ever (even Roberto Benigni used up all of his English with more words), it’s like they just decided that nothing mattered after they hit 8:00pm.

I’m flabbergasted. My gast is flabbered.


That’s all I’ve got for tonight. I have to process this. For the record, I went 16-for-23 on the night. Not my best, but not bad either. I’ll have more thoughts during my annual Oscars Postmortem in a couple of days. In the meantime, I’ve got reviews for three new movies in the chamber, and later this week, we’ll see the return of a feature I haven’t been able to do for quite some time.

Join the conversation in the comments below! What were your thoughts on the ceremony? Are you as pissed as I am about the presentation? Can we all at least take solace in Diane Warren losing again? Let me know!

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