The Oscars’ In Memoriam section featured Helen McCrory and Chadwick Boseman – but viewers call it ‘disrespecting’

Producers chose to play an upbeat Stevie Wonder song over images of late screen stars that flashed by too quickly for many viewers

The Oscars’ annual In Memoriam segment allows viewers a break from the glitz and glamour, a moment to forget about the unimaginably expensive red carpet outfits and freshly whitened teeth, and a chance to pay tribute to the screen stars we’ve sadly lost over the past year.

So it was the case again this year. But viewers tuning in to this year’s awards ceremony were not greeted with the usual, downbeat moment of quiet reflection.

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Instead, this year’s section seemed to zip by at double-speed and was accompanied by “upbeat” music that sounded wholly inappropriate given the context.

The late Helen McCrory, Chadwick Boseman and Sir Sean Connery were all honoured at this year's awards - though the segment has drawn complaints online (Photos: Getty Images)

Though it could be argued that this year’s In Memoriam section had the potential to be the most poignant in recent history, given the wider context of a global pandemic in which millions have died, commenters on social media say the segment widely missed the mark.

“This year’s Oscars In Memoriam played accidentally at podcast 1.5x speed,” said one user on Twitter, while another complained that the names on screen were only visible for “.0001 seconds.”

Another viewer called the In Memoriam “a huge tonal miss” against a backdrop of 3 million global Covid-19 deaths, and accused producers of “clicking through the slides faster than usual.”

‘A bold move’

It wasn’t just the speed with which faces came and went on screen. The tempo of the music producers chose to accompany the usually introspective moment – Stevie Wonder’s ‘As’ – was also criticised.

One social media user called the section “disrespecting those who have passed,” saying the tempo of the song was ”too fast”, and that the Academy was “whizzing” through the names.

The segment also appeared directly ahead of the announcement of the winners of the best picture and best actor and actress awards, three of the most high-profile gongs of the ceremony.

The section’s placing was a “bold move” according to one viewer, who claimed this year’s In Memoriam segment was played at “2x speed”.

Who was featured in the In Memoriam segment?

Helen McCrory, Sir Sean Connery and Chadwick Boseman – who was also posthumously nominated in the best actor category for his role as an ambitious trumpeter in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – all featured in this year’s segment.

Boseman died last year aged 43 following a private four-year battle with colon cancer, but was pipped to the award by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who won for his performance in The Father, about a man slipping into dementia.

Kirk Douglas, Christopher Plummer, George Segal, and Max von Sydow were also featured, as was legendary composer Ennio Morricone.

Elsewhere, some were left disappointed that stars like Arrested Development actress Jessica Walter, and Adam Schlesinger – who received an Oscar Best Song nomination for That Thing You Do! in 1997 – were missed out, though Walter is included on the Oscars’ online list.

The full list of names featured in the Academy’s In Memoriam can be found at Oscars.org.

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