The Oscars 2021: The “Last Word” by Laurel Marcus

Union Station set
Rendering courtesy of Rockwell Group

#Oscarssoweird! Like an entitled trust fund brat, Oscar delayed his grand entrance to make it live. This selfless act of late middle-to-endish (hopefully) pandemic protocol avoided the Zoom doom of (lesser) predecessors. Did it work? Yes, parts of it, but it also made for some really strange optics.

In March, Oscar producers Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher, and Jessie Collins sent all Oscar nominees an extremely petulant letter informing attendees to either put up or shut up (no beaming in by aforementioned Zoom). Showing up meant turning it out – no Jason Sudeikis tie-dyed hoodies, y’all! Got it?

With attendance restricted to nominees and one guest each, the event was moved from the Dolby Theatre to Union Station – an interesting venue complete with a charming paper lanterned courtyard which served for both the pre-shows and the after-show (which I couldn’t stay up for). Inside the building’s multi-tiered room, a set up with small tables resembled the Beverly Hilton Golden Globes minus the wine and dine. Kudos to the set design planners — a colorful eye fest between the artwork projected on the LED screens and the jubilantly dressed attendees.

Regina King in Louis Vuitton
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool

Of course, next to no one has seen these movies, so I’m guessing people were only tuning in for the fashion or the politics. Thankfully there were only about three significant politically charged moments – the first one occurring less than three minutes in courtesy of Regina King in an ice-blue winged and blinged Louis Vuitton number who alluded to the George Floyd verdict. “If things had gone differently in Minneapolis, I would have been trading my heels for marching boots,” she said. Point taken.

Angela Bassett wearing Alberta Ferretti
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

So let’s get to the fashion and general weirdness! During the Pre-shows, I flicked back and forth between E! Skeletor Giuliana Rancic and ABC Skeletor Zanna Roberts Rassi. I couldn’t decide which was more painful — you just want to see them chowing down on a hamburger and fries. Rancic had the misfortune of standing awkwardly down camera separated from her subjects by a construction wall. She peppered nominees with her back to the TV audience with her usual “how does it feel…” drivel. Ugh!

Amanda Seyfried
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Old Hollywood glamour with a modern-day twist is seen on Angela Bassett, Amanda Seyfried, Maria Bakalova. The deep V-plunge “clams on the half shell” seen on Bakalova and Seyfried was also quite popular. It didn’t work on Vanessa Kirby – her ill-fitting pale pink Gucci bodice looked really uncomfortable and reminded me of Gwyneth’s Ralph Lauren missing cups deflation. Halle Berry’s mauve gown suffered from the opposite problem, barely containing her girls from a nip slip away.

Rocking those Midriff Gowns Vanessa Kirby, Andra Day, Zendaya

Ever since Taylor Swift bared her midriff at the Grammys a few years back, it seems we’ve been inundated with stylists thinking this is how young women dress for awards shows. Zendaya, Andra Day, and Carey Mulligan all subscribed to bared abs, with Day going even further. Her custom Vera Wang (supposedly made of actual metal) was a feat of engineering you’d expect to see on an ice skater who moonlights as a stripper if such a thing exists, or maybe the other way around?

Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern
Photo: Instagram

Laura Dern was a molting Oscar de la Renta Ostrich standing next to the diminutive Reese Witherspoon in belted underwhelming scarlet striped Christian Dior– interesting that these two starred together in “Big Little Lies” and never appeared directly adjacent for obvious reasons.

H.E.R.
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

H.E.R.’s sparkly blue hooded jumpsuit was cool and very “her,” complete with signature sunglasses.

Random thoughts throughout the broadcast:

The Questlove background music is an inspired touch.

Checking in with the live NY Times updates as I run out of the room for popcorn. Apparently, I missed a reaction shot of Daniel Kaluuya’s mom as he mentions hearing his parents have sex. Actually, I missed his whole acceptance speech. I rewind but ultimately give up.

Bob Beitcher, president, and CEO of the Motion Picture and Television Fund accepting the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. “Is he going to cry?” asked my husband as he sauntered past the TV. “No, I am if I have to watch the rest of this show.”

“My Octopus Teacher” has got to be one of the weirdest titles for a documentary. Then again, don’t all teachers need eight arms?

Paulina Porizkova & Aaron Sorkin
Photo: Shutterstock

Paulina Porizkova has gone from New Wave freak (deceased former husband Ric Ocasek) to Hollywood A-lister Geek (Aaron Sorkin). She looks like the cat that swallowed the canary at the popular kids’ table.

Glenn Close
Photo: ABC.com

Glenn Close can really shake it to “Da Butt,” as demonstrated during the last-minute musical “game.” Was she let in on that gag, or was it spontaneous? Ok, ABC says it was “surely scripted” marking the only time I believe the mainstream media.

When did Zendaya morph into a Kardashian? I thought I was watching Kendall – must’ve been when she scored all her lucrative fashion/beauty/jewelry endorsements.

Cute moment between ponytailed Brad Pitt and Best Supporting Actress winner “Minari” grandma Yuh-Jung Youn as he led her backstage after presenting her award. Adorable speech, too, when she “blames” her sons for making her “go back to work.”

Renee Zellweger
Photo: ABC via Getty Images

Renee Zellweger looks great in pink strapless Armani Prive – it seems she’s laid off all the nasty fillers that were distorting her already full face.

Are we finally there? Best Picture comes before Best Actress and Actor? Since when?

Why is Frances McDormand howling at the moon? I assume it’s got something to do with her character in “Nomadland” but maybe she’s just off her meds.

Stunned – Anthony Hopkins over Chadwick Boseman? Neither one (obviously) appears. Weird ending with Joaquin Phoenix but no weirder than a few minutes ago with Harrison Ford.

Yes, we made it! Whew! – closing credits – ahh yes, set design by David Rockwell. I should have known.

Laurel Marcus
Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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