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2021 Oscars highlights: Massive snubs, powerful speeches and Glenn Close dancing to 'Da Butt'

Elisabetta Bianchini
·8-min read
2021 Oscars highlights: Massive snubs, powerful speeches and Glenn Close dancing to 'Da Butt'

The 2021 Oscars brought people back to an in-person ceremony, but as the Academy Awards pressed on during COVID-19, it was full of groundbreaking award winners, massive snubs and even some butt shaking from your favourite movie stars.

Huge snub for Chadwick Boseman

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Unfortunately, the most notable moment of the night left the ceremony to end on a sour note. Leaving the best actor category to the end, the late Chadwick Boseman was snubbed for his performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, with Anthony Hopkins receiving the award for his role in The Father.

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Many people took to social media to express their thoughts on the upset, particularly after the order of the ceremony was changed to leave the best actor category to the end, instead of the usual best picture award being presented last.

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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom did end up winning for best hair and makeup, making hairstylists Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson the first Black women to win in the category.

"I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, were denied but never gave up," Neal said. "And I also stand here as Jamika and I break this glass ceiling with so much excitement for the future."

"Because I can picture Black trans women standing up here and Asian sisters, and our Latina sisters and Indigenous women, and I know that one day it won't be unusual and groundbreaking. It will just be normal."

Regina King would have 'traded in [her] heels for marching boots'

What made the Boseman loss even more difficult to stomach is that much of the award show was spent addressing racial justice, equality and diversity.

Regina King started the Oscars by strutting into Union Station in Los Angeles, Academy Award in hand, to kick off the more intimate ceremony. 

King addressed that it has been "quite a year" and said if things had gone differently in Minneapolis she would have "traded in [her] heels for marching boots," referencing police officer Derek Chauvin being found guilty of murdering George Floyd.

"I know that a lot of you people at home want to reach for your remote when you feel like Hollywood is preaching to you but as a mother of a Black son, I know the fear that so many live with and no amount of fame or fortune changes that," she said.

Chloé Zhao is the first woman of colour to win best director award

Nomadland was a favourite going into the 2021 award season but Chloé Zhao made history by being the first woman of colour to win the Academy Award for best director.

The the only other woman who has won in this category was Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 (11 years ago) for The Hurt Locker.

Zhao told a story in her acceptance speech about how she would memorize classic Chinese poems and texts with her father, and one she remembers in particular is called "The Three Character Classics," which starts with the phrase, "people at birth an inherently good."

"Even though sometimes it might seem like the opposite is true,...I have also found goodness in the people I met everywhere I went in the world," she said.

"So this is for anyone who has the faith and the courage to hold on to the goodness in themselves, and to hold on to the goodness in each other no matter how difficult it is to do that."

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Nomadland ended up winning the biggest award of the night, best picture, and the movie's star Frances McDormand won for best actress for her role as Fern, who is on a journey as a modern-day nomad in the U.S.

"Please watch our movie on the largest screen possible and one day, very, very soon, take everyone you know into a theatre, shoulder to shoulder in that dark space, and watch every film that's represented here tonight," McDormand said, before making an iconic wolf howl.

'My mom met my dad, they had sex, it's amazing'

Daniel Kaluuya won an award early in the night for best supporting actor for playing Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, chairman of the Black Panthers' Illinois chapter who died at the age of 21 by police after they raided his apartment.

Kaluuya started his speech by thanking his mom for giving him "everything" and the rest of his family for their support.

Then things took a turn, going back to talking about his mother in a different way.

"You've got to celebrate life, man," Kaluuya said. "We're breathing, we're walking, it's incredible."

"My mom met my dad, they had sex, it's amazing... I'm here."

In an interview after his speech, Kaluuya expressed a little bit of regret for what he said in his speech but we'll see the kind of text messages he gets from his mom.

'Minari' star says hello to Brad Pitt

Yuh-Jung Youn not only had a charming performance in Minari but she continued to charm the audience at the 2021 Oscars when she won the award for best supporting actress, starting off by doing something all of us would do if we were in that room - say hello to Brad Pitt.

"Mr. Pitt, finally, nice to meet you," she said. "Where were you while we were filming in Tulsa?"

The actor went on to say that everyone in the room is forgiven for any mispronunciations of her name and praised her fellow nominees, particularly Glenn Close.

"I'm luckier than you," she said. "And also maybe it's American hospitality for the Korean actor."

She also thanked her two sons who "make [her] go out and work."

"This is the result because mommy works so hard," the actor said, before being walked off stage by Pitt.

Glenn Close shows off her 'Da Butt' dance moves

To add a little bit of a pause to the ceremony, Questlove and Lil Rel Howery hosted a little Oscars trivia in the middle of the event, where Questlove played a song from a movie and one of the stars in the audience had to identify whether it was an Oscar winner, nominee or none of the above.

One of the celebrities chosen to play was Glenn Close who correctly identified Experience Unlimited’s (E.U.) song "Da Butt" from Spike Lee's 1988 movie School Daze.

"My friends at the Oscars missed it and it wasn't nominated so it couldn't have won," Close said, before expressing her upset that it wasn't nominated for an Oscar by using an (unfortunately) censored expletive.

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Lil Rel Howery then prompted the 74-year-old actor to show off her "Da Butt" dance moves, which she happily did, sending social media into a frenzy.

Tyler Perry urges the public to 'refuse hate'

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Tyler Perry accepted the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2021 Oscars and he had a clear message in his speech: "refuse hate."

The Hollywood mogul spoke about the lessons he learned growing up.

"My mother taught me to refuse hate," Perry said. "She taught me to refuse blanket judgement and in this time, and with all of the internet and social media and algorithms and everything that wants us to think a certain way, the 24 hour news cycle, it is my hope that all of us will teach our kids...just refuse hate."

"I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or white or [LGBTQ]. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer, I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian. I would hope that we would refused hate. And I want to take this Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle...because that's where healing happens, that's where conversation happens, that's where change happens."