The Oscars… they happened
Carlos De Loera | Tuesday, February 26, 2019
I would like to start this article by saying that awards shows are self-congratulatory displays of excessiveness and exclusivity. That being said, I am fascinated by these awards shows’ committees’ inability to get it right and the outrage these gaffes inspire. Just look at the list of Best Picture and Album of the Year winners over the last 30 years to see what I mean. However, unlike most people, I will say that these awards DO matter. They may not be the ultimate measure of a movie, show or song’s worth, but capturing one of these lucrative awards often leads to increased opportunities, increased contract leveraging and increased income.
This past Sunday night, stars of the silver screen gathered in L.A.’s Dolby Theatre to celebrate 2018’s best films and performances at the 91st Academy Awards. A lot of stuff went down. Some good. Some inspiring. Some questionable. Some straight-up stupid.
No Host, No Problem
In early December 2018, it was announced that comedian/actor Kevin Hart would be hosting the 91st Oscars ceremony. The selection seemed safe enough. Hart is one of the most popular comedians in the world, a statement backed by his ability to sell out venues like Madison Square Garden and Lincoln Financial Field with ease. However, within 48 hours of his hiring, Hart was relieved of his duties because of online backlash that highlighted a homophobic comment the comedian had made in the past. The situation was not aided by the fact that Hart refused to apologize about his comments. This whole debacle left the Academy too nervous to find another host. But how could the Academy do this? With no host surely the ceremony will suffer, just look at the horror that was the 1989 ceremony. But not having a host really helped the process flow smoothly. This was much to the credit of presenters and a preplanned intro.
After a weird Queen performance, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph performed a genuinely funny bit about how they were definitely not the ceremony’s hosts. The next notable bit was when Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry came out to present Best Costume Design dressed in outfits that made fun of the overly serious nature of the movie-costuming business. McCarthy was noticeably dressed much like Olivia Colman’s depiction of Queen Anne from “The Favourite,” including a nod to the character’s affinity for rabbits. Another fun moment was when Mike Myers and Dana Carvey briefly brought back Wayne and Garth from “Wayne’s World” to introduce “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Perhaps my favourite presenting moment was seeing the contrast in Samuel L. Jackson’s look of disgust when presenting “Green Book” with Best Original Screenplay (he and I were both physically disgusted by this) and his unbridled joy when handing his good friend Spike Lee the award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
It’s About Damn Time
Speaking of Spike Lee, SPIKE LEE FINALLY WON AN OSCAR. IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME.
Sure, he received the award for a film that falls outside of his top-five best films, but “BlacKkKlansman” was still a good movie. Live it up, Spike!
Also, it was about time that Marvel Studios finally won an Oscar and the fact that they all came thanks to “Black Panther,” with two of the awards going to African-American women, is not something to overlook. WAKANDA FOREVER.
The Academy Loves Queen
The show opened up with a performance by Queen with Adam Lambert, a performance that no one asked for, but one that no one was necessarily mad about. The film “Bohemian Rhapsody” then went on to win four awards, which was more than any other film that night. The most deserved award for the film was Rami Malek’s win for Best Lead Actor (even if I don’t think he deserved to win, I get why he won). I am baffled that the film won for anything else. How did it win Best Sound Editing over “A Quiet Place,” a film whose whole premise relied so heavily on its masterful sound editing? “A Star is Born” definitely should have won for Best Sound Mixing because it actually had to mix real music, not just dub some dude’s voice over Malek’s. Best Film Editing could’ve gone to another film in the category and I would have been OK with it, except for “Green Book,” it won way too much as it was.
The Academy Solves Racism for the Third Time (Yay!)
The biggest winner of the ceremony was Best Picture winner “Green Book.” I mean, we should’ve all seen this coming, the Academy loves movies that portray white people figuring out how to eradicate racism. You know, the kind of movie that not even someone from the ’50s would call progressive. This same thing happened when “Driving Miss Daisy,” a movie where an older white woman only really begins to appreciate her black driver when her memories begin to fade, won Best Picture in 1989. It happened again when “Crash,” a movie riddled with weird racial elements, beat out “Brokeback Mountain” to nab Best Picture. The producers of “Green Book” could have at least shouted out Don Shirley and Victor Hugo Green, who created the actual Green Book, when receiving their award.
Also, how did it win for original screenplay? Both “The Favourite” and “First Reformed” had way more innovative modes of storytelling and took more stylistic chances than “Green Book.” The concept for the film wasn’t even that original.
On a less cynical note, Mahershala Ali deserves all the Oscars he gets. Keep ’em coming.
There were a lot of not-that-great speeches. The acceptance speech for the makeup crew of “Vice” was riddled with awkwardness and inability to execute that it almost became farcical (I felt bad for them). All the “Green Book”-related winners gave lackluster and somewhat uncomfortable speeches likely because of the controversy surrounding the film.
Alfonso Cuarón gave a good first speech, an OK second speech and by his last speech was really reaching for some new material. Hannah Beachler, who won for Best Production Design for “Black Panther,” gave a nice speech.
But the real winner of the speeches was Olivia Colman, who won for Best Actress. Her genuine surprise made for one of the best moments of the night. She was incredibly funny, truly emotional, beautifully charming and so pleasantly British. She will always be my queen.
Diversity Wins Out
Of the four acting category winners, three were people of color. Best Director and Best Cinematography went to Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón. Spike Lee got his first win. Hannah Beachler and Best Costume Design winner Ruth Carter had big nights. Women had some of the most show-stealing moments of the night. Presentadores y ganadores hablaron en español sin aviso y sin subtítulos. It was great. Overall, of the 24 winning crews, 13 included at least one person of color.
That “Shallow” Performance
In one of the most-anticipated moments of the night, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper went on stage to perform the smash hit from “A Star is Born.” The result was OK. There was some weird tension happening on that stage. Cooper took some time to find his voice, but he got there. Gaga was hitting all her notes.
What the performance did highlight was how good the two of them are in their film. Their “Shallow” moment in the film is one of the best movie moments in the last 10 years because the two actors are able to convince the audience that Gaga is genuinely nervous to perform and Cooper is there to help along the way. But in last night’s performance, the roles were switched.
It would have been cooler if the two came out as their characters from the film and took on their movie personas to try and recapture the magic from that moment.
The Academy Loves Cuarón … but not Netflix
Every award that “Roma” director Alfonso Cuarón won, he deserved. He picked up his second win for Best Director, keeping up the reign of Mexican directors in this category. He also won for Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography. His film was also the prohibitive favorite for Best Picture, but tragically lost. I have a feeling this was because some of the older Academy voters were hesitant to award a movie that was released through a streaming service and wasn’t available in most theaters.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to let the old ways die.