oscars 2021

The Weirdest, Sweetest, and Most Historic Moments From the Oscars

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

The 93rd Academy Awards just wrapped up and, despite being held in a defunct train station, were a pretty good time. The red carpet was in full bloom; the wins, on the whole, were less white than usual; and there were no uncomfortable Zoom moments because the Academy really just forced everyone to come to L.A. Didn’t catch it? Here’s what you missed:

On the red carpet …

Riz Ahmed fixing his wife’s hair. The famously, hideously sweet Riz Ahmed took a moment to fix his wife’s hair on the red carpet:

Alan Kim doesn’t care who’s at the Oscars. Minari’s Alan Kim wore tiny little Thom Brown shorts and when Giuliana Rancic asked who he was most excited to see at the ceremony, he said he was “fine with anybody!”

Youn Yuh-jung and Glenn Close met for the first time. Minari’s Youn Yuh-jung and Glenn Close meeting was a moment for the books:

Zendaya. Standing in the wind:

LaKeith Stanfield. Wearing this:

At the ceremony …

Regina King’s power walk. The actor and director made a long walk to the Oscar stage wearing an extraordinary, ice-blue Louis Vuitton gown, after which she proceeded — in her opening comments — to correctly pronounce every foreign word and name, except for “Borat.”

Daniel Kaluuya’s speech (and his mother’s reaction to one part of it). Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, and gave an excellent speech which included thanking his mother and father for conceiving him. Actually, the exact phrasing was: “You got to celebrate life, man! We’re breathing, walking, it’s incredible. It’s incredible … My mom, my dad, they had sex. It’s amazing” — to which his mother gave him the kind of look that said, I’ll deal with you at home. 

Emerald Fennell’s win. The Promising Young Woman director is the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay since Diablo Cody triumphed in the same category for Juno 13 years ago.

Mia Neal’s speech. Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson became the first Black women to win an Oscar for best hair and makeup for their work on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, starring Viola Davis. “I want to say thank you to our ancestors who put the work in, were denied, but never gave up … I know that one day it won’t be unusual or groundbreaking; it will just be normal,” Neal said in her speech.

Chloé Zhao’s best director win. Zhao became the first woman of color to win an Academy Award for Best Director for her acclaimed film Nomadland (which also won Best Picture). She’s only the second woman to win the category in history. In a stirring speech, she recalled a memorization game she’d played with her father growing up, sharing one phrase with the audience in Mandarin, translated to: “People at birth are entirely good.” “Those six letters had such a big impact on me,” she said, “and I still truly believe them even if it might seem the opposite.”

Brad Pitt’s ponytail. He had one!

Youn Yuh-jung’s speech. Which included flirting with “Mr. Brad Pitt,” the presenter, and forgiving everyone — including Brad Pitt — for mispronouncing her name all evening. The 73-year-old actress won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Minari, and is the first South Korean woman to win in an acting category.

Glenn Close doing “Da Butt.” In an intermission game with Questlove, Glenn Close was asked to guess whether a song had been an Oscar winner, loser, or nominee. The host thought she wouldn’t even recognize the song, but not only did she shout the name (“that’s Da Butt!”) she got out of her chair and demonstrated the move.

Francis McDormand’s howl. Toward the end of the evening, Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland won best picture. Its lead actor, Francis McDormand — who later won Best Actress — said a few words at the end of Zhao’s speech, which she ended with a feral howl.

The Oscars’ Best, Weirdest, and Most Historic Moments