Viewership reached an all-time low, according to reports, with the 2021 show averaging only 9.85 million people per Nielsen's Live + Same Day preliminary national numbers. That's a 58 percent decline from the 2020 Oscars, which drew 23.64 million viewers and previously held the record for worst ratings in the show's history.
Like every other show this awards season, the 2021 Oscars pivoted from its usual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ABC's live telecast featured an intimate group of nominees gathered in person at L.A.'s Union Station, while others appeared via satellite around the world. It seemed like it was going to work (at first) as Sunday's event got off to a strong start thanks to Regina King. But the host-less spectacle quickly fell flat.
There were no clips from many of the nominated films, no live musical performances — aside from Glenn Close's "Da Butt" dance — and the decision to change the order of the final three awards turned out to be a disaster.
The telecast's producers, Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher and Jesse Collin, put the Best Actor category last rather than Best Picture. Many fans were expecting the show to end in some sort of tribute to Chadwick Boseman, the presumed winner whose posthumous performance in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom had him win nearly every other trophy this awards season. Instead, it was Anthony Hopkins's name that was read allowed by a seemingly surprised Joaquin Phoenix.
Hopkins wasn't in the audience, nor was he present virtually from the United Kingdom. (He was actually sleeping.) So the show ended abruptly with some calling it worse than the La La Land/Moonlight snafu four years ago.
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