Nobody knew what to expect in this year’s 91st Academy Awards, given that there would not be a host for the first time in 30 years. Suffice to say, it was a largely strange ceremony filled with a whole lot of firsts, dazzling entertainment, and surprisingly, fun.
The show largely held together due to good chemistry by the various award presenters, and the fact that the announcements were made by Randy Thomas, who has been the announcer for the program for the last 10 years. Whatever it is, like what Anne Hathaway wisely said: “No matter what happens with today’s show, just remember, it’s already been worse. Happy Oscars!” Read on for a quick snapshot on what happened during the three-hour-long show.
With no host after the Kevin Hart debacle (he stepped down after old homophobic comments and tweets resurfaced), the Oscars kicked off with a fiery performance of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” by the remaining members of Queen, with Adam Lambert subbing in for Freddie Mercury.
Watch the performance below:
Tons of jokes about the host-less ceremony
So what if there was no opening monologue? Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler did just fine when they came out to present the first award of the night, the Best Supporting Actress award (which went to Regina King, for If Beale Street Could Talk). Their series of quips about the host-free ceremony was just what the night needed.
“We’re not your hosts, but we’re going to stand here a little too long so the people who get USA Today will think that we hosted,” Tina said.
“So just a quick update, in case you’re confused: There is no host tonight. There won’t be a popular movie category. And Mexico is not paying for the wall,” Maya said as the crowd cheered.
“And we won’t be doing awards during the commercials, but we will be presenting commercials during the awards,” Poehler continued. “So if all the winners could please say, ‘Hellman’s Mayonnaise: We’re on the side of food,’ instead of your speeches, that would be great.” These three should be next year’s hosts, pronto.
In what is beginning to look like an audition run to be the hosts for the next Oscars, Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry turned up in hilarious over-the-top ensembles that parodied films The Favourite, Mary Queen of Scots and Black Panther while presenting the Best Costume Design award (which went to Ruth E. Carter for Black Panther). Melissa donned a gigantic train peppered with soft toy bunnies as she held on to a hat and another toy rabbit for good measure, while Brian accessorised his 18th century get-up of blue shawl and large floral skirt with red gloves, a red hat, a polka dot bow tie and layers of pearls. Let it not be said that the Oscars was boring.
It was a night that celebrated diversity, a far cry from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Ruth E. Carter’s best costume design win for her work on Black Panther made her the first African American costume designer to ever take home the award, and the second African American woman to win an Oscar in a non-acting category.
Hannah Beachler, who won Best Production Design with Jay Hart, also for Black Panther, was also the first African American to win the award in that category. “When you think it’s impossible, just remember to say this,” Hannah said during an emotional speech. “I did my best, and my best is good enough.”
Peter Ramsey was the first black director to win for an animated film with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, featured the first Afro-Latina Spider-Man. “We want you to know we see you. You’re powerful. This world needs you,” Ramsey said. “Ok? So please, we’re all counting on you.” Also, a documentary about the stigma around menstruation faced by women in India titled Period. End of sentence., won an Oscar for best documentary short subject — proof of how progressive the Awards ceremony has come these 91 years.
It was an entertaining night for sure. Jennifer Hudson first hit the stage performing “I’ll Fight”, a song written by Diane Warren for the documentary RBG about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Dressed in a pant-suit with a train, she performed with her usual aplomb and pitch perfect accuracy.
Then, Keegan Michael Key dropped into the audience from the sky holding an umbrella to introduce Bette Midler, who sang “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns.
But the performance of the night went to Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, who showed off their chemistry in an intimate and pared down presentation of smash hit “Shallow” from A Star Is Born. Free of theatrics and accompanied by Gaga on the piano, it was spellbinding and simply magical. No wonder it won Best Original Song!
And the most amusing speech goes to…
Spike Lee, for his ecstatic acceptance of his first competitive Oscar (he was awarded an honorary Oscar before for his directorial accomplishments). Spike and his three fellow BlacKkKlansman writers won best adapted screenplay for their story about an African-American police officer who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan with the help of a Jewish surrogate. Spike began with an expletive before paying tribute to his grandmother, whose mother was a slave. She lived to be 100 years old and put him through Morehouse College and New York University film school.
He then pivoted into politics with an enthused battle cry: “The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilise, let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate,” he said. “Let’s do the right thing!”
A night of unsurprising (but deserving) winners…
The winners’ list tonight was predictable, given that many of them had already garnered several awards in preceding ceremonies. Mahershala Ali snagged the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Green Book, which also earned him a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice award.
Regina King, who tearily thanked her mum, won best supporting actress for If Beale Street Could Talk, which she got a Globe for. “I’m an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone,” she said.
Rami Malek, who also thanked his mum and late father, won best actor for Bohemian Rhapsody, which he got a Globe and Screen Actors Guild for. Rami is the second actor of Arab descent nominated for an Oscar, after Lawrence of Arabia star Omar Sharif. He is the first to win.
Oh, except for the Best Actress award
In the largest upset of the night, the award went to Olivia Colman for her role as Queen Anne in period comedy-drama The Favourite. Glenn Close, a seven-time Oscar nominee, was widely pipped to be the winner, having won a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice for her role in The Wife. Shocked herself, Olivia’s mouth was still hanging open (see video below) when she went onstage in tears. “It’s genuinely quite stressful. This is hilarious, I got an Oscar,” she said. “My kids are at home watching — look! Though if you’re not, well done. But I sorta hope you are. This is not going to happen again,” she said with a laugh.
The charming actress — who once worked as a cleaner — also thanked her director and co-stars, but did not forget to give a shout out to Glenn, who has not won an Oscar so far. “Glenn Close, you’ve been my idol for so long, and this is not how I wanted it to be,” she said tearfully, as Glenn laughed and waved off the compliment. “I think you’re amazing and I love you very much.”
Surprisingly, Green Book overcame controversy and backlash to win the coveted Best Picture award. The movie, which drew questions on the accuracy of its portrayal of its characters and polarised critics due to its depiction on racism, also won Best Original Screenplay.
“The whole story is about love,” said director Peter Farrelly. “It’s about loving each other despite our differences and finding out the truth about who we are: We’re the same people.”
Added producer Jim Burke: “We made this film with love, we made it with respect, and we made it with tenderness.”
An abrupt end
We would like to say the show ended with a rip-roaring sensational flourish, but it felt more like a whimper than a spectacular finish. After presenting the best picture award to Green Book, Julia Roberts abruptly wrapped up the Oscars after the producers gave their acceptance speech:
“Well, apparently, that wraps up the 91st Academy Awards,” she said. “I would like to say congratulations to all the nominees and winners. And good night to Bradley Cooper’s mother and my children. And thank you for watching,” she added.
And that was that. Thankfully, Julia looked gorgeous in her bright pink gown.
Full winners list below:
Best supporting actress –Regina King
Best makeup and hair –Vice
Best documentary – Free Solo
Best costume design – Black Panther (Ruth E Carter)
Best film editing – Bohemian Rhapsody (John Ottman)
Best production design – Black Panther (Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart)
Best cinematography – Roma (Alfonso Cuaron)
Best sound editing – Bohemian Rhapsody
Best sound mixing – Bohemian Rhapsody
Best foreign language film – Roma (Mexico)
Best supporting actor – Mahershala Ali (Green Book)
Best animated feature – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Best live action short – Skin
Best animated short – Bao
Best documentary short – Period. End of Sentence.
Best visual effects – First Man
Best original screenplay – Green Book (Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly and Nick Vallelonga)
Best adapted screenplay – BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott)
Best original score – Black Panther (Ludwig Goransson)
Best original song – Shallow (A Star Is Born)
Best actor – Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody)
Best actress – Olivia Colman (The Favourite)
Best director – Alfonso Cuarón (Roma)
Best picture – Green Book
Text: Joy Fang / Additional reporting: Elizabeth Liew