Photo Courtesy of FilmMagic
Story by Brandon Black and Maria de Guzman / Contributing Writers
In the months leading up to the host-less 92nd Academy Awards, the Academy itself made a number of rather poor choices, from an attempt to introduce a “Best Popular Film Category” to the announcement that four awards would be presented during the commercials in an effort to shorten the reliably lengthy run time. It was no matter that two of those awards were cinematography and editing, the only two categories that are absolutely essential to, well, making movies. After introducing and retracting so many unfortunate decisions, the resulting show couldn’t help but feel anticlimactic. Thankfully, there were still plenty of weird and wonderful moments interspersed within the welcome fast-paced ceremony before leading up to a disappointing conclusion.
Queen opened up the show with a performance with Adam Lambert (the band’s biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody” was nominated for “Best Picture,”) singing lead vocals. Immediately following the Queen performance, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph strutted onstage to tell the audience what they would do if they were hosting the Oscars. As they presented the award for Best Supporting Actress, their three-minute long monologue set the tone for the night and gave everyone the sense that maybe the ceremony won’t be too bad.
After we got a few necessary glimpses of Chris Evans being the devilishly charming gentleman he is, the show forged ahead into the actual awards and performances and in this regard, was better for its lack of a host. The presenters did their presenting swiftly, Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry had the evening’s best outfits (inspired by “Best Picture” nominee “The Favourite”) and Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson’s chemistry made many even more excited for “Captain Marvel.”
The early evening awards were, for the most part, predictable. Perhaps the best of these earlier moments was “Black Panther’s” highly deserved wins in both the costume and production design categories. Hannah Beachler, who won the latter, gave a terrific and emotional speech reminding us all that our “best is good enough.”
“Bohemian Rhapsody” took home best sound mixing and editing for the remarkable task of incorporating pre-existing songs into a major motion picture, while “Vice” won “Best Makeup and Hairstyling” for its admittedly fantastic makeup and hairstyling. Christian Bale most definitely does not look that much like Dick Cheney in real life. “Best Visual Effects” went to “First Man.”
Peter Ramsey became the first black director to win the stacked “Best Animated Feature” category for the innovative, vibrantly-colorful comic book film, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Regardless of how much iron pumping Ruth Bader Ginsburg has done lately, “RBG” couldn’t climb past “Free Solo” for “Best Documentary Feature,” and “Best Documentary Short Subject” went to “Period. End of Sentence.” In terms of short films, that of the live action variety was awarded to “Skin,” and the animated victor was Pixar’s “Bao,” an adorable story that contains a small dumpling boy who grows up to become a larger dumpling man.
The winners for the music categories were excellent this year, with the one award of the night anyone could have predicted coming from “Shallow” for “Best Original Song.” “Black Panther” nabbed yet another statue for “Best Original Score.” “All the Stars” was the only song not to be performed on the telecast, but the standout of the evening was no doubt Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s passionate recreation of their “A Star is Born” ballad. I don’t know how the camera managed to make the song so intimate in such a large space, but both the performance and its presentation were flawless.
“Green Book” received “Best Original Screenplay.” Alfonso Cuaron was practically an awards magnet, as he went to the stage three times for “Best Foreign Language Film,” “Best Cinematography” and “Best Director” for the Netflix-distributed “Roma.” This told us what we already knew: “Roma” is good.
“Best Supporting Actor” and “Best Actor” went to Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) and Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) respectively, with Ali receiving this award for the second time in three years.
We’ve now reached perhaps the most controversial awards of the night. “Best Film Editing” went to the fever dream that is a hefty chunk of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” most likely because of its picture-perfect recreation of Queen’s 1985 Live Aid Concert performance. It beat out the likes of “BlacKkKlansman” and “The Favourite.” Finally, “Best Picture” did not go to “Black Panther,” a monumental film that threads one of the most intricate portraits of the black experience and toxic masculinity in recent memory into a modern superhero narrative. It did not go to “A Star is Born,” an intimate look at addiction’s effect on the ascent and decline that comes with celebrity, fueled by two powerhouse performances and a killer soundtrack. It went to “Green Book,” and that was that.
The Oscars are always a mixed bag, but hey, some incredibly talented people still received recognition for the incredible films they brought to life, and honestly, that’s pretty cool. Who knows what stories will shape and change us in 2019?
Starstruck comedians John Mulaney and Awkwafina also presented in an awkward yet delightful way, with Mulaney proclaiming that he wants all of the A-list celebrities to like him to an embarrassing degree.
Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry walked out to present “Best Costume Design” in the most ridiculous royalty-inspired costumes. Keegan-Michael Key literally flew down with an umbrella to introduce Bette Midler’s performance of “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from “Mary Poppins Returns”.
Normally people tune out acceptance speeches, but this year had some of the best television moments.
If there was a post-show Oscar for Best Acceptance Speech, Olivia Colman would take the cake. Her speech was an adorable and genuine reaction to winning top prize. She emotionally thanked everyone in her eyesight, from her husband to her fellow nominees Glenn Close and Lady Gaga.
Spike Lee’s Oscar acceptance speech would take runner-up, as he jumped into presenter Samuel L. Jackson’s arms on his way to the microphone. The legendary filmmaker was finally recognized with “Best Adapted Screenplay” for his powerful and painful depiction of race relations in the ’70s, “BlacKkKlansman.” Of course, it wouldn’t be a Spike Lee speech without a political call to action. This time, his slogan for 2020 was a callback to his 1989 film: “Do the Right Thing.”
However, no political statement from that night could top filmmakers Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton, who accepted the Oscar for “Best Documentary (Short Subject)” for “PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE”. A film about Indian women fighting the stigma around menstruation, Berton ended her speech by saying, “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education”.
The moment that everyone on Twitter is talking about is Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance of their famous duet “Shallow”. The intimate performance needed no introduction, as a piano rolled on without warning and Cooper and Gaga walked from their seats to the stage. At the end, they smile at each other lovingly, embodying their characters and leading everyone on Twitter to speculate that they are in love.
Even the highs of the ceremony couldn’t save the Oscar nominee clips that were shown in every category. Not only were the presentations and nominee packages spoiler heavy, but they showcase bad clips that made one question why this person was even nominated for their category in the first place.
The biggest low of the night came in the form of “Green Book” winning Best Picture, the highest honor in Hollywood. There have been surprises before – for example, the film “Spotlight” took home Best Picture in a year that included “The Martian” and “The Revenant.” However, no film has sparked this much outrage over its win.