With no host, females dominating the stage, and controversy over winners, the 2019 Oscars will certainly go down in history.
The show opened with comedy trio Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph, all of whom have starred on SNL. With little knowledge and hope for how the show would transpire absent of a host, the three were successful in setting a casual mood both for the audience and for viewers at home.
Later in the show, the audience was graced with another comedy star, Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy, dawning an over-exaggerated Alice and Wonderland themed gown adorned in stuffed rabbits, made a tremendous effort in keeping a straight face alongside her partner on the stage, Tyree Henry, an actor in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse and If Beale Street Could Talk, both of which would go on to win awards later in the evening.
To compensate for the lack of a host, before each award was announced, a new star was brought onto stage to present, the list included comedy up-and-comer and star of Crazy Rich Asians, Awkwafina, talk show host, Trevor Noah, Serena Williams, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Daniel Craig, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lopez, and Michael B. Jorden, star of Oscar winner Black Panther.
Women also took center stage among winners. With Olivia Colman winning best actress (The Favourite), Regina King for best supporting actress (If Beale Street Could Talk), Lady Gaga for best original song (A Star Is Born), Hannah Beachler for production design (Black Panther), Nina Harstone for sound editing (Bohemian Rhapsody), Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton for best documentary short (Period. End Of Sentence), were all deserving winners representing women in the movie-making industry.
I was excited not only to see more female representation among winners but also among performers. Lady Gaga sang her original song “Shallow,” alongside co-star Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Hudson performed “I’ll Fight,” from RBG, a documentary about supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and musical icon Bette Midler all sang “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” from Mary Poppins Returns.
The performance that lit up the night by far was from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performer their smash hit “Shallow.” The duo were the only performers to stay in their seats in the audience until they were announced to the stage, rather than starting their performance on stage. The performance consisted of Gaga on the piano singing alongside and Cooper. The song was just as captivating if not more so live than on the silver screen.
Gaga would go on to make a moving and motivational speech to her fans.
“It’s not about winning, but what it’s about is not giving up,” Gaga said. “If you have a dream, fight for it. It’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep going.”
Another powerful speaker was Olivia Colman, winner for best actress for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourite. Colman was a bit of a blundering mess, but her speech was so candid and heartfelt that you could feel her excitement through the TV screen.
“This is hilarious!” she laughed. “I got an Oscar!”
Colman made a point to thank her fellow nominees saying, “You’ve been my idol for so long and this is not how I wanted it to be.” Colman said, regarding Glenn Close. “I think you’re amazing and I love you very much.” Close currently holds the record for having the most Academy Award nomination without a win, male or female.
With five movies released in 2018, it was no surprise when movies like Black Panther, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and Avenger: Infinity War were all up for nominations including best picture, picture, and visual effects.
However, the highlight for the superhero and comic book icon was when Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse took the award for Best Animated Picture. It was up against hits like Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks The Internet, but it was surprising that the film, grossing $56 million worldwide, took the number one spot.
But Marvel still wasn’t done, not only was the film Black Panther nominated for best picture, but it won for production design. Which was appropriate given that the breathtaking costumes and visual effects of the film couldn’t compete with other nominations Roma, First Man, Mary Poppins Returns, and The Favourite.
While the night was filled with laughs and tears, the biggest eyebrow raiser came when the short film Bao won for a best animated short film. The film depicts an elderly woman that takes care of a dumpling, that, before she could cook it, came to life. As the dumpling grows it depends less and less on the women and soon becomes independent. The audience watches as the women grows more and more frustrated and increasingly depressed having been left by her ‘child.” However, the climax of the movies was the most shocking and left my mouth gaping as the old women stuffs the adolescent dumpling in her mouth. Despite my own confusion, the Academy seemed to have received it well in terms of production, animation, and overall filmmaking.
Despite controversy and skeptics regarding the state of the Oscars being left without a host, all of the presenters handle it well and made for a very interesting, very new kind of show that I don’t think anyone was expecting. The most important part, however, was the diversity that ended up on stage and as nominees, something that has taken far to long to be reached, but now that we’re here the most important thing is to keep growing in our acceptance and recognition of everyone.