It wasn't long into the 2021 Oscars before a major criticism began to emerge: Where were all the clips of the movies?
Producers of Sunday's Academy Awards made some fairly surprising presentation decisions during a show already altered by COVID-19, not least of which was the shock move not to give out Best Picture as the last award and instead end with Chadwick Boseman's posthumous loss to Anthony Hopkins.
But the lack of clips at the show was one of the top criticisms of the Oscars all throughout. Indeed, with numerous major categories including acting awards, the broadcast didn't actually cut to footage of the work that was in contention, with presenters in some cases instead praising the nominees' work or telling viewers more about them. Clips were used in certain cases, including for the nominees for Best Picture, but they were far more sparse than in past broadcasts.
In "a year where awareness of the movies is so low, it's tough not to have clips around for context," wrote critic Scott Tobias. NPR said in its Oscars wrap-up that "walking away with no idea what any of a lot of the honored work even looks like seems like a failure."
Perhaps producers simply felt that the frequent use of clips would detract from their effort to create a more intimate and personal feeling experience this year. Regardless, those who came into the show knowing little about the nominated films and not understanding why the winning performances were so impressive may have left it with roughly the same level of unawareness.