Line: In 2020, I was astonished people forget about the Oscars. This season, the inevitable happened


You want to know how lengthy Sunday night’s Oscar telecast ran? Fifteen minutes not more than a flight from Kansas City International Airport to LAX.

You want to understand the strangest thing about the show? Watching it on an ipad tablet and smartphone at thirty, 000 feet with Wi-Fi that occasionally shredded the presenters into shadow monsters of green and whitened pixels felt pretty much perfect.

We’re all just doing our best, after all. For more than a season, we’ve tried to adjust to 1 version of “normal, ” and then another, and mistakes will be made, whether with a culture columnist winding up to flight that coincides using the Oscar telecast or by producers of that telecast forgetting that no one knows which winner will be announced other than the CPAs at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Suppliers Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collins experienced a formidable task — to deliver as normal very safe an Academy Awards evening as could be had in the midst of an outbreak. And in they succeeded admirably. The restricted attendees gathered in a spiffed-up Union Station gave the particular show a retro supper-club vibe that evoked the event’s earlier iterations while celebrating both the artistic importance of the nominees and the slow-open of this country.


Some people mostly loved it, many people mostly hated it, but then nothing says “normal Oscars” more than extreme nit-picking criticism of the telecast, which producers guaranteed in part by promising to make the display feel “like a movie. ”

Through the years, Oscar producers have guaranteed all sorts of things, but in the end all of the they can really hope for can be producing the Oscars, a three-hour live television show where the essential storyline — who wins each award — cannot be controlled by the writers, producers or director.

Though making a bit in which Glenn Close does “Da Butt” is usually, as it turns out, a big help.

But if, say, you decide to create best actor the final group of the night and there is a very good chance that, say, Anthony Hopkins, who will be 83 and lives in Wales, is going to win, then for the love of God let him pre-record an acceptance speech. I realize there was a strict live-or-nothing policy on speeches, but surely an exception could have been produced. Anyone requiring further proof that necessity is the mother of invention need seek out the fact that Hopkins has an Instagram account.

Or even that a person can watch the particular show in double-masked plus meal-deprived splendor at thirty, 000 feet, if they completely have to.

Last year, I publicly expressed my regular astonishment that lots of people in this world are not excruciatingly aware of the telecast time each and every year. “Over the many years, ” I wrote with complete sincerity, “I possess forgotten my husband’s birthday, our anniversary and even a school concert or two. But the Oscars? Impossible. ”

Hubris like that has only one outcome; this year I forgot about the Oscars.


Well, I did not actually overlook about the Oscars. I knew the display was happening on April 25 and had several discussions of my part within covering them.

But I also understood I would be attending the son’s make-up graduation upon April 24 in Columbia, Mo., and that we would become flying home the next day mainly because, after a year of looking into a Chromebook, my more youthful daughter was finally returning to in-person middle school on Monday.

Do I ensure that the trip home would not overlap using the Oscars? Reader, I did not. COVID-19 has caused incalculable damage to millions in many ways, however it has liberated many of us in the tyranny of the clock and the calendar.

So much so that I have, apparently, forgotten how such things work.


For more than a year, many of us have lived lives free of logistics. We have been at home, we will always be home; where else would all of us be? At worst, scheduling conflicts could be solved by cutting one Zoom interaction short while sliding straight into another a bit late. We didn’t even have to think about what we were wearing, which almost never included shoes.

Indeed the most remarkable thing about this year’s Oscars may have been the sight of a lot of women in high heels. Just in 2021 could directing and best-picture winner Chloé Zhao ‘s decision to set a floor-length Hermès dress with white tennis shoes create perfect sense.

The idea that I could create a situation in which I had to be in two places at once didn’t occur to me for weeks. Once the realization struck, I was stunned. Has the world changed a lot that I forgot about something which has been a fixed point in my work life for so many years?


In my defense, I must point out the fact that ceremony is not supposed to fall on the day between college graduating and back-to-school. It is also not really supposed to take place in Union Place. But here we are.

Here we are with Hollywood’s biggest night occurring in a bizarre in-between — between first and second shots, between the elation associated with first dinners out and the fear of yet another COVID-19 rise, between a delayed graduation plus a delayed first day of school. Here we are with a pandemic-curtailed celebration of films an extremely limited number of people have seen mainly because most movie theaters have been shut for a year and people have spent too much time and money diversifying their streaming services to figure out and pay for VOD.

I will declare after my plane got there was a brief but robust conversation, including participants from three rows of seats, about the choice of “ My Octopus Teacher ” over “Collective, ” “Crip Camp” and “Time” as best documentary. “Oscars normality” also demands exasperated discussion over certain winners.

Reviews of the show were mixed and the ratings unprecedentedly low plus neither of those things must be infused with any which means at all. Oscar reviews are almost always mixed because what makes for good television — announcing the incorrect film as the best image, for example — does not alllow for a good awards presentation.


This might have been the entire year to re-institute a host (and I think we’re all agreed a team of Regina King and Lil Rel Howery would have been amazing), if only to offer some guidance (should the audience applaud each nominee? ) and acknowledge at certain time periods the inevitable weirdness from the proceedings.

The decision to announce best picture before the lead acting awards was absolutely unneeded and terrible, especially as it seemed to be made in the exploitive hope that Chadwick Boseman would be the last winner of the night, allowing the show to close on an emotional tribute to the beloved actor or actress (which Hopkins did in a video posted Monday).

As I said, mistakes were made, but in any yr, no matter what the ratings, an Oscar remains one of the most sought-after recognizes in the world, and the ability of the audience to see the nominated plus winning films — inside a theater or at all — does not define or take away from their artistic power.


Indeed, almost all the nominated films reflected in a single way or another both the dislocation and newfound resilience of the year. “Nomadland, ” “The Father, ” “The Sound of Metal, ” “Minari” and “Judas and the Black Messiah” all tell tales of lives upended simply by change, each detailing the journey of rebellion plus acceptance, isolation and neighborhood. As lead actress champion Frances McDormand said, we should all do everything we can to see them — and all the other nominees — in theaters as soon as it is safe. But even if we don’t, their power and attractiveness will endure, reminders of a year like no other.

In the end, it doesn’t matter when the Oscars happened near a train or were watched on a plane. Awards plus audiences notwithstanding, the films that debuted in 2020 speak for themselves. As they always perform.