There is no other way to put it, the Oscars were a mess this year. The coronavirus pandemic impact aside, the way the production ran as if it was a film production really made you feel the loss of an Oscars host. And the lack of live performances made the production feel less alive and felt as if at times attendance was court-mandated. While the show offered some highlights (like Glenn Close doing “Da Butt”), there were far too many misses, including the In Memoriam segment.
The In Memoriam segment is usually somber, and emotional, as a reel plays that highlights all the amazing talent we have lost in the previous year. In a year where loss has impacted almost everyone, and the world is in a state of grief from the worldwide loss of over 3 million people to COVID-19, you would think this would be the segment of the production that the producers would nail, right? I mean, Oscars producer Steven Soderberg, director of films like Ocean’s Eleven, Magic Mike, and more would know how to stick an emotional landing right?
Not only was the segment strangely upbeat (using a Stevie Wonder tune), but it left out some notable performers including Naya Rivera, who died in July 2020 after mustering her strength to save her son, but couldn’t pull herself out of Lake Piru, and eventually drowned.
Also left out were Jessica Walter and Adam Schlesinger. Walters is best known for her role as Lucille Bluth in Arrested Development and Schlesinger was nominated for Best Song in 1997 for penning “That Thing You Do!” However, both Walter and Schlesinger are included on The Academy’s In Memoriam online, but Rivera is not.
In a year where Latinos in the industry were largely overlooked for nominations, leaving out Rivera who connected to so many young, queer Latinos with her role as Santana on GLEE, is a not just a mistake, it’s a disrespect to Rivera and to the Latino community.