Opinion | The Best (and Weirdest) Oscar Moments

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ pared-down pandemic version of the Oscars on Sunday could be described as either incredibly refreshing or incredibly awkward — depending on what you thought of Glenn Close doing Da Butt, among other moments.

What did you think of Frances McDormand’s howl? The meandering format, with few clips of the nominated movies? Yuh-Jung Youn’s gentle trolling of Brad Pitt? We asked readers to share their thoughts on this year’s Academy Awards — the highlights, oddities and innovations. A selection of their responses, edited for clarity and length, follows.

Give us your take in the comments section.

Which aspects of the ceremony do you think were more — or less — effective than in previous years?

It occurred to me that this version of the Oscars was like the very first ceremonies, when it was an industry affair held in a hotel ballroom, with no thought of communicating with a mass audience. Eventually, the yearly show turned into entertainment, which this year’s was not. All in all, the worst Oscar show ever, and that’s quite an accomplishment. — Glenn Lambert, Los Angeles

Overall, I thought it was a lot more fluid and enjoyable than recent ceremonies. I loved having Questlove as the musical director, and the overall style (the language used by the presenters, the more casual sets) made the whole thing feel much more approachable. — Patricia Garcia-Rios, Brookline, Mass.

This was a disaster of a show. They had months to figure out that it would have been entirely appropriate to show many more film clips of performances, costumes, etc. Especially since many films are unavailable for those of us who can’t afford yearly subscriptions to a variety of streaming services. — Linda Vega, New York

Loved the diversity and Steven Soderbergh’s intimate aesthetic. It felt like a truthful celebration of the industry as an art form, created by hard work, perseverance and luck. — Mish Moore, Sydney, New South Wales

This was the best show in 20 years! The spotlight was on the nominees, instead of all of the over-the-top production numbers. And in years past the host (or hosts) talked way too much. I’m sure a lot of people would disagree with me, but frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn! — Edna Griffith, Fieldale, Va.

What was the highlight of the show for you?

I think Regina King kicking off the show with a victorious, defiant walk — no, a strut — to the stage with a trophy in hand was the perfect way to get it off the ground. — Tim Lawson, Louisville, Ky.

It truly felt like an international event, and that was affirming in this crazy year. But the true highlight for me was seeing so many women and people of color nominated for their manifold achievements. — Joanna Dulkin, Minneapolis

Tyler Perry’s speech after receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. He has done so many incredible things, not only for his industry but for his community and the state of Georgia with all of the people he has employed through his studio there. — Jennifer Murphy, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Thomas Vinterberg (director of “Another Round,” which won best International Feature Film) memorializing his late daughter. And Frances McDormand’s literal shout out to Michael Wolf Snyder (a sound mixer for “Nomadland,” who took his own life in March). — Henrik Jensen, Denmark

I loved that presenters and winners alike shared their journeys, what movies mean to them and how they got started in an industry often marked by twisting roads. It was incredible to see so much diversity, including Marlee Matlin, who presented awards in sign language. I admit I missed the energy and glamour of a bigger show, but it felt like it was more about the human sinew that connects us, that connects our dreams, our goals, our families, than previous Oscars. — Becky Rolnick-Fox, Ohio

What was the weirdest moment of the evening?

Talk about an anti-climactic ending. The producers shuffled the major categories around, capping the night off with the Best Actor award in anticipation of a posthumous win for Chadwick Boseman. As a viewer, you could feel the air leave the room when Anthony Hopkins’s name was announced. — Jessica Yiu, Singapore

The music quiz segment. Glenn Close’s “encyclopedic” knowledge of the song “Da Butt” from Spike Lee’s movie “School Daze” was pretty weird. And it was probably scripted. But I never laughed harder at anything in any Oscar telecast in my life. Great fun! — John Lewis, Jacksonville, Fla.

Watching everyone pretend the pandemic is almost over. — Jessica Mendes, Toronto

The absence of movie clips throughout the show was downright bizarre. Perhaps the goal was to shy away from ostentatious and often hollow displays of love for cinema? It was odd to have a celebration of craftsmanship that seemed so hostile to displaying that craft. — Josiah Jenkins, Glendale, Calif.

Daniel Kaluuya thanking his parents for having sex. — Mary Cunning, London

Which nominee was robbed?

Viola Davis for playing Ma Rainey, who experienced the same kind of racism in the 1920s that Black women still encounter today. That the voters didn’t recognize how extraordinary it was then — or now — for a Black woman to have such agency says a lot about how little progress has been made. — Jennifer E. Mabry, Boulder, Colo.

As a woman in recovery, I think Riz Ahmed nailed his performance in “Sound of Metal.” Add in his acting as someone who has lost their hearing, and I was floored. Kristina Coley, St. Louis

Carey Mulligan for “Promising Young Woman.” Her performance in a rom-com, thriller, drama, horror (all the same movie) made me laugh, cry and feel horrified by the truth of it. — Anastasia Taber, Washington, D.C.

“Wolfwalkers.” It was a chance to show that it’s not just Pixar animating quality films, and this was an exceptional one. — Calvin, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Maria Bakalova (supporting actress nominee for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”). Incredible work made to look easy, all while in front of an audience that couldn’t know she was acting. — Daniel Plants, St. Louis

Chadwick Boseman should have won best actor. The man is now an icon and it would have meant so much for him to be properly honored for his contributions, not just to the film industry but what he means as Black Panther, Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson. That’s the political reason. That’s not even mentioning the hunger, the charisma, the love, the pain and the fire that he brought to his role as Levee in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” — Helen Apesos, Boston

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