The Highs and Lows of the Pandemic Oscars

The riveting gold dress of Andra Day, Chloé Zhao’s shout-out to Werner Herzog, and nostalgia for the live tears of Gwyneth Paltrow.

By Anthony LaneApril 26, 2021

Chloe Zhao looks lovingly at her Oscars statue in front of a stepandrepeat.
Chloé Zhao, who won Best Director for “Nomadland,” offered a tip: if making a movie seems like a heap of trouble, simply ask yourself, “What would Werner Herzog do?”Photograph by Chris Pizzello / AP / Getty

The world has fallen prey to a pandemic. Millions of people have died. Millions have become sick or lost their jobs. Hundreds of millions have stayed home and watched TV, forbidden to visit a cinema and trapped in shame by their self-administered haircuts. For the sake of universal morale, therefore, it was deemed to be of paramount importance that the ninety-third Academy Awards should go ahead on Sunday. And it was only right that the bulk of the ceremony should be staged at a railroad station—to be specific, Union Station, in Los Angeles. An obvious choice. If it was good enough for the climax of “Garfield: The Movie,” it’s good enough for the Oscars.

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Anthony Lane has been a film critic for The New Yorker since 1993. He is the author of “Nobody’s Perfect.”More:OscarsAcademy AwardsMoviesHollywood

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