Reel to Real

Dwight’s Oscar scorecard: Only two wrong (sort of)

There’s been so much to talk about last Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast.

First, the low ratings. Down more than half from last year – which was already the lowest-rated broadcast in Oscars history – initial numbers on Monday had the United States ratings at just under 10 million viewers. That caused great horror and panic, as “The Awards Show of Awards Shows” had never before fallen below the 10 million mark.

But by mid-week, with all the numbers in, and delayed viewing on DVRs accounted for, the number was adjusted to just over 10 million. That’s still 58 percent lower than 2020, but just above the Grammys, and well above the Golden Globes and, as usual, last year’s Emmys.

The other big issue: the odd production choices. The dullness and, for the most part, humorless tone (with the bizarre exception of nominee Glenn Close and presenter Lil Rel Howery), and the questionable order of the presentation of awards, may be more remembered in the future than who actually took home statuettes.

For most of the previous 92 editions of the awards, Best Picture is almost always the final award of the night. The exceptions being the Oscars’ first couple or so decades, almost a century ago, and one time in the 1970s.

But somebody decided to mix things up and place Best Picture second to last in the lineup, ending the night with the lead acting categories, and specifically, with Best Actor being the night’s final award.

Apparently, the producers were banking on an emotional ending, with almost everyone predicting the late Chadwick Boseman would win Best Actor.

But as stated last week in our predictions, posthumous acting awards are very rare for the Oscars, happening only once in 1976 for Peter Finch for “Network” for Best Actor, and once in 2008 for Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor “The Dark Knight.”

Nevertheless, the word “upset” has been bandied about all week regarding “The Father” star Anthony Hopkins’ win over Boseman. And many have been angry and saying all manner of horrible things on social media.

Most of those “talking smack” likely didn’t watch “The Father”, or any of the four other films and performances in that category.

Hopkins’ was indeed the best performance of the year, of any actor, in any category. And as I stated in my review of the film a few weeks ago, it is arguably the best work of his illustrious career.

And thus, finally, begins my Oscars report card!

Last week, as has become an annual tradition, I attempted to predict “who will win” the Academy Award in a number of the top categories. And I also included “who should win” based on “my personal favorites”.

As usual, I count a win from the “my personal favorites” list as a win for me, regardless of whether I stated that the Academy would go with someone else for the award. Got it?

So, while I, too, thought the Academy would give the award to Boseman, I did certainly believe Hopkins was the most deserving of the award. I’m delighted the Academy voters agreed.

Once again, if you haven’t watched “The Father”, put that on top of your “To Do” list.

The same thing happened with Adapted Screenplay. My personal favorite was “The Father” and screenwriters Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller. While I predicted voters would go with Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland”, they indeed went with my favorites in the category.

There were, however, two categories I got completely wrong. My epic fail was for Cinematography; instead of Joshua James Richards for “Nomadland”, the award went to Erik Messerschmidt for “Mank”.

Give me some credit, though, for acknowledging that Best Actress was likely primarily a race between Frances McDormand (“Nomadland”) and Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”). Both had won at the Golden Globes. But I picked Day over ultimate winner McDormand. After Sunday, the latter now has three Best Actress wins under her belt.

McDormand is now only one behind the legendary Katharine Hepburn for awards in this category, besting even Meryl Streep and Ingrid Bergman. (While both Streep and Bergman each have three acting Oscars, only two of those are for Best Actress, with the other in the Supporting category.)

Otherwise, all my other predictions were spot on:

Best Picture: “Nomadland”

Director: Chloé Zhao, “Nomadland”

Supporting Actress: Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”

Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya “Judas and the Black Messiah”

Writing, Original Screenplay: Emerald Fennell, “Promising Young Woman”

And I also casually but correctly predicted that “Sound of Metal” would win Best Sound. And that Thomas Vinterberg’s mere inclusion in the Best Director category was a surefire sign that his Danish-language film “Another Round” was going to win Best International Feature Film.

Plus, even though it was a pretty easy guess that “Nomadland” would win, it marks now five years in a row I’ve correctly predicted the Best Picture winner, often going against the grain and inciting ridicule for my controversial picks, like “Moonlight”, “The Shape of Water”, “Green Book”, and for last year’s “Parasite”.

This streak is hot!

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