And the Award for Most Creative Audition Goes To…
Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig brought some humor (and passion) to the Production and Costume Design categories. Admittedly, they had me fooled at first, and aided by an early cut to Greta Gerwig in the audience, I prepared to hear a rant about one of the many touchy subjects on the ceremony. Not so fast, they were … acting, all while reminding us (and the many directors in the room) that they’re insanely talented and worthy of any project. (Scorsese, I’m looking at you.) Their second act — an a capella medley of costume-themed songs ranging from “Lady in Red” to “The Thong Song” — was not only hilarious, but pitch-perfect to boot. Pun intended. –Jenn Adams
Cats Are Terrifying Without Terrifying Visual Effects
This is terrifying to think about and will haunt me in my sleep. Actually, I won’t get any sleep tonight because of it. James Corden and Rebel Wilson, both stars of the cinematic vomit that is Tom Hooper’s Cats, were announced on to the stage as presenters for Best Visual Effects. Me, an innocent person who has not seen Cats, and foolishly did not put the two together, screamed, “Noooooooo!” when the two stars arrived in their Cats getup. Even sans their not-Oscar-nominated visual effects, they looked terrifying. Eventually, the award went to the mostly practical 1917, and not Thanos or Young De Niro, but it didn’t matter. The Cats had got their revenge, and the only person more horrified than me was perhaps Bradley Cooper. –Carrie Wittmer
Eh, We Loved That Stroll Down Melody Memory Lane
I’m a sucker for a good cinematic musical montage, especially when introduced by Lin-Manuel-Miranda. While I’m not sure how it connected to the ceremony, I loved revisiting (and singing along with) some of my favorite movie soundtracks from Almost Famous and Ghost to Wayne’s World and The Breakfast Club. I’m not ashamed to say that Titanic and The Bodyguard brought the tears, while Reservoir Dogs and Deliverance kept the schmaltziness from taking over. The montage concluded with a live performance of “Lose Yourself” by Eminem that was probably better live due to the liberal (but expected) use of the mute button. Necessary or not, this segment allowed us all to bask in what Clint called “so much rhythmic white nodding.” I nearly lost myself in it.–Jenn Adams
Is This a Camera for Ants?!
Their latest film Downhill isn’t exactly a laugh riot, but Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus at least committed to a slyly hilarious bit tonight when they presented the Best Cinematography and Best Editing Oscars. For the former, they blustered their way through their … broad definitions of what a cinematographer does with all the nervous confidence of someone interviewing for a job they’re in no way qualified for (“Not only does the cinematographer prepare the meals for the crew and cast, it is also the cinematographer who knocks on your trailer door to let you know it is time to get to the set… to create magic“). For the latter, they complained about the editors who’ve cut them out of everything from Parasite to Ford v. Ferrari (“It was originally Ford v. Ferrari v. Ferrell!”). Look, I’m a sucker for Deadpan Ferrell, okay? Sue me. –Clint Worthington
The Canary in the Colman
For the Best Acting awards, the Oscars trotted out last year’s Best Actor and Actress winners to present to the opposite category for which they won. While Rami Malek offered a sober, earnest ode to the actresses he paid tribute to, Olivia Colman blustered on to the stage with the same giddy energy that made her a favorite (sorry, favourite) when she won last year. “Winning an Oscar ages you,” she quipped of her shock of bleach-blonde hair, before launching into an effortlessly hilarious monologue in which she *checks notes* jokes about railing her husband hardcore the night of her Oscar win (“Last year was the best night… of my husband’s life”)? What an absolute legend. –Clint Worthington
Just All of Laura Dern
Whatever film you’d like to imagine Laura Dern really won for tonight (Yes, of course, she’s good in both Marriage Story and Little Women, but this was just as much a Sympathy Oscar as anything else), it was really great that Dern brought her family — daughter Jaya Harper and mother/Hollywood royalty Diane Ladd — to sit with her at the ceremony. And when she won, that cut to Ladd’s tear-filled face was just about enough to get something in the eyes of everyone watching at home. By the time this publishes, it will be Laura Dern’s birthday. Happy birthday, Laura Dern! Take a load off; you’ve earned it. –Clint Worthington
Disorder of the Phoenix
It came as no surprise that Joaquin Phoenix would win for Joker, and if his BAFTAs speech was to be any indicator, he was more than ready to use his platform to call out the specter of inequality. And to be fair, it got off to a good start, with plenty of gratitude for his fellow nominees and the beginnings of a great speech about inequality. Then it started to lose focus a bit, meandering into tangents about veganism (“We’ve become very disconnected from the natural world”) and cow insemination.
What’s more, he referred to himself as a “scoundrel” in previous years and apologized for being difficult to work with in the past; okay, that’s good. Then he sprang from that to call out “canceling each other for our past mistakes,” before ending with a genuinely tear-jerking ode to his late brother River Phoenix, who wrote the lyric “Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow.”
Well-intentioned stuff for the most part, but I gotta say, hearing veganism conflated as equal to the struggle against systemic racism, poverty, and violence rings a little false to the ear. Still, points for effort in using his platform to speak to bigger issues, however confusing it may have been. –Clint Worthington
I Heard You Lose Oscars
Apart from our precious Bong Sweep (go Parasite!), it’s surprising just how far the love was spread among the other eight Best Picture nominees this year. That is, of course, except Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which got bupkis in all of its nominated categories. It’s especially ironic, considering how much Director Bong and everyone else at the ceremony celebrated Marty’s body of work (even inspiring a standing O for the man during Bong’s Best Director speech). Maybe the Academy voters just couldn’t sit through three and a half hours? Did Netflix’s marketing team not ply them with red wine and bread? It is what it is. –Clint Worthington
Bong Hive Assemble!
But nothing — not the lack of diversity in the nominees, not the occasional egregious omission (no Gerwig for Screenplay, Zellweger for Judy) could take away from the absolute giddiness that was seeing Parasite sweep so many major awards. Of course, doing so also meant that poor Director Bong had to get up to the mic no fewer than three times to accept awards.
While he’s quipped about the Oscars being a “local awards show” in the past, he was endearingly self-effacing in all of his speeches, from his insistence that everyone stand up and clap for the awards-snubbed cast of his film, to adorably quipping that “I’m ready to drink tonight” after his first win.
Still, the Bong moment of the night came when he paid grateful homage to his fellow directing nominees, from Scorsese (inspiring a standing ovation) to Tarantino (quashing whatever silly rumors were floating around Twitter that they had a beef based on one sour still image of QT’s face), and insisting they take a “Texas Chain Saw” to his Oscar and share it among the five nominees. Now, that I’d like to see. –Clint Worthington
Once Upon a Future in Hollywood
Over the past few weeks, backlash over the lack of diversity in the nominees has been harsh, and the producers of tonight’s ceremony clearly took notice. The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony was filled with women and people of color, and the producers were fairly transparent in their efforts to go out of their way to show us that they do value inclusiveness … even if many of their members don’t. While this is a welcome change and I love seeing Kelly Marie Tran, Questlove, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and acknowledgment of the indigenous people on whose land the Dolby was built, something about it didn’t sit right.
Toward the end, Jane Fonda said nothing is more important than raising awareness, but I would argue that taking action is equally, if not more, important. I don’t want to be told that all women are superheroes, I want women and people of color to have the opportunity to show it in Hollywood and an Academy Award nomination goes a long way toward making that possible. The idea that we should solely value quality may work as a logical ideal, but that is not the world we live in. We are in need of a course correction.
And while the diverse ceremony was a refreshing change — not to mention, Parasite’s unlikely sweep — we are still a ways off from the systemic changes needed to make #OscarsSoWhite a thing of the past. –Jenn Adams