The Show Must Go On

Beyond the slap, here’s everything else our Entertainment Practice saw at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday:

  • Historic wins for underrepresented communities—representing a shift from the #OscarsSoWhite controversies of years past (at least within Acting categories). CODA broke historic ground as Troy Kotsur became the first deaf man in Academy history to win an Oscar for acting. Power of the Dog Director Jane Campion became just the third woman to win a statuette for Best Director while West Side Story’s Ariana DeBose took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the first openly queer woman of color to win an acting category. But representation challenges persist across many of the technical categories. 
  • The Oscars still struggle to connect with audiences. Despite promises for a “tight three hour” program and efforts to nod to fan-favorite films, the show ran almost 45 minutes over time and was the second-lowest rated Oscars in history. There will likely be a reckoning at the Academy, but can it combat the death of mid-budget films that have historically driven Oscars interest?
  • Streaming was solidified as an industry tentpole. CODA’s victory marked the first time in history a streaming service, Apple TV+, won Best Picture. It also represents the culmination in a decades-long shift in the industry from traditional theatrical releases dominating both the awards and box office landscape to a more bifurcated release and awards strategy, one hastened by the pandemic with more eyeballs than ever watching film from home. 
  • Voters gravitate towards uplifting and positive narratives during turbulent times. One of CODA’s key advantages over other films this year was its positioning as a feel-good story focusing on hope, family, community and perseverance against the events of the past several years.