It's hard not to love Willem Dafoe. He was one of the most humble celebrities interviewed on the red carpet before the Oscars. One interviewer commented that Dafoe always shows up with a smile and when asked about it had said that his secret was that he loves being an actor. Of the night ahead, Dafoe said in a zen manner, "I'm going to enjoy what there is to enjoy."
What was there to enjoy at this year's ceremony? Plenty. The night began with Queen and frontman Adam Lambert performing "We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions." Watching celebs of all types including Glenn Close rock out was entertaining. Perhaps the Oscars need more rock 'n roll. (Granted, I still miss my Billy Crystal opening medley of Best Picture titles.)
Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph delivered an opening monologue. (Is it too early to ask them to host next year's ceremony?) They also presented Best Supporting Actress to Regina King. King gave a gracious speech acknowledging James Baldwin, Barry Jenkins, and her mother. She said, "I'm an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone.
Free Solo won Best Documentary Feature beating the popular RBG. It was the first nomination and win for husband-and-wife directors Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi. In her acceptance speech, Vasarhelyi said, "This film is for everyone who believes in the impossible "
The Best Makeup and Hairstyling category started in 1981. This year, the award went to Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe, and Patricia Dehaney-Le May for Vice.
Melissa McCarthy and Bryan Tyree Henry presented the award for Best Costume Design. McCarthy came out in a queen's robe with plush bunnies on every square inch of it, a parody of the queen's pets in The Favourite. Meanwhile, Tyree Henry, ever the good sport, wore an outrageous dress and opera mask. The two then proceeded to to discuss the importance of subtle dress that does not distract in costume design. When McCarthy went to open the envelope, she had some trouble as one of her hands was a bunny hand puppet, but she refused to let Tyree Henry help her.
Black Panther won its first award of the night for Costume Design. Ruth Carter thanked Spike Lee for giving her her start. "Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design we turned him into an African king," she said. "Thank you for honoring African royalty and the empowered way women can look and lead on screen." She is the first African-American to win in this category.
Black Panther also won Best Production Design. Hannah Beachler gave a powerful speech. Beachler was the first African-American to ever be nominated in this category.
Alfonso Cuaron won Best Cinematography. I had really hoped the more accesible, romantic Cold War would take this one.
Emilia Clarke who played Ruth Bader Ginsburg in On the Basis of Sex introduced the song "I'll Fight" from RBG sung by Jennifer Hudson. She said that Khaleesi had nothing on Ruth and made an offer to the Supreme Court justice. "If you'd ever like to borrow the dragons..."
Bohemian Rhapsody won Best Sound Editing, its first win of the night, depriving A Quiet Place of its lone shot at an Oscar. It was the first nomination and win for John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone.
Bohemian Rhapsody also took Best Sound Mixing, dashing my hopes that First Man might get one of the sound Oscars. It was the first nomination and win for Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin, and John Casali.
Roma won Best Foreign Film. It is the ninth film from Mexico to be nominated and the first to win.
Keegan-Michael Key floated down from the ceiling with an umbrella which he tossed into the aisle when it wouldn't close. He introducrd Bette Midler singing "The Place Where Lost Things Go" from Marry Poppins Returns.
Bohemian Rhapsody won Best Editing which meant it had an official sweep so far. It had not lost a single category it had been nominated in so far. And winning Best Editing put it in line to win Best Picture.
Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor. Yes, I was disappointed Sam Elliott didn't win. As one anonymous voter said to Entertainment Weekly, Ali's performance in Green Book isn't greater than what he did in Moonlight. It was Ali's second win. He always gives a good speech. This time, he dedicated the award to his grandmother who pushed him to try hard and told him he could do anything.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won Best Animated Feature Film. Phil Lord said, “When we hear that somebody’s kid was watching the movie and turned to them and said, ‘He looks like me,’ or ‘They speak Spanish like us,’ we feel like we already won.”
Director Peter Ramsey said,"We see you. You're powerful. We're counting on you." They were cut off before they could thank Stan Lee.
Alt-country star Kasey Musgraves introduced Gillian Welch and David Rawlings for their performance of "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings" from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
Netflix dropped a teaser trailer for The Irishman (Scorsese's long rumored film) confirming it will hit theaters this fall.
Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey introduced Bohemian Rhapsody as their Wayne's World characters in one of the night's most perfect moments.
Awkwafina and John Mulaney (two of my favorite people!) gave out two of the short film awards.
Bao won Best Animated Short. It's my least favorite of this year's nominees. The ending doesn't make sense to me. (Is the dumpling a metaphor for her child? Has she always had a real child and the dumpling was like a surrogate child?) It is a historic win as Domee Shi is the first woman to direct a Pixar short.
Period. End of Sentence. won Best Documentary Short. The film deals with the taboo around menstruation in India. Producer Melissa Berton said, "A period should end a sentence, not a girl's education."
Disney debuted a new Lion King trailer.
Diego Luna and chef José Andrés introduced the film Roma. Andrés said,"This beautiful, intimate film, one that gives a voice to the voiceless, reminds us of the understanding and compassion that we all owe to the invisible people in our lives, immigrants and women, who move humanity forward."
First Man won Best Visual Effects (YES!) so it is an official Oscar winner. The team thanked the "inspirational Damien Chazelle."
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper performed an intense, intimate version of "Shallow."
Skin won The Best Live Action Short. It was the first nomination and win for both Guy Nattiv and wife Jaime Ray Newman. It was the first nomination and win for both. Newman dedicated the award to their baby that she hopes will grow up in a world without the type of intolerance depicted in the film.
Green Book won Best Original Screenplay.
Spike Lee finally won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. He gave Samuel L. Jackson a huge hug, climbing onto him, and opened his acceptance speech by saying, "Do not stat that motherfucking clock."
Black Panther won Best Original Score. It was the first nomination and win for Ludwig Göransson. The award was presented to him by Black Panther star Michael B Jordan and Tessa Thompson. Göransson is a longtime collaborator with director Ryan Coogler and has scored his films since they were at USC together.
Lady Gaga won her first Oscar for Best Original Song. She gave one of the best speeches of the night. "If you have a dream, fight for it," she said.
The In Memoriam segment featured a John Williams score conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. I prefer when they include film clips that have dialogue in them. This part of the ceremony is always emotional. It is also humbling. There are always several people I don't know that I feel I should. I wish there was more time to honor each person and say more about them.
Thalberg awardKathleen Kennedy became the first female to receive the Irvinvg G. Thalberg Award. Producer Frank Marshall was also a recipient.
Barbara Streisand introduced BlacKkKlansman, saying, "Truth is especially precious these days."
Rami Malek won Best Actor. He gave an amazing speech. He said,"We made a film about a gay man, an immigrant who lived his life unapologetically himself. And the fact that I'm celebrating him and this story with you tonight is proof that we're longing for stories like this."
Amandla Stenberg and Congressman John Lewis introduced Green Book. Lewis's words were powerful. "Our nation bears the scars of that time as do I," he said.
Some people online criticized the producers for having civil rights pioneer Lewis introduce a movie that features a "white savior." (The fact that they weren't outraged the star of The Hate U Give was used in the same way goes to show they haven't seen that movie yet.) I personally don't think it detracts from the power of Mr. Lewis's words or the message he came there to give: get involved politically and fight prejudice!
A loud "WHAT?!" was heard in my house when they announced the winner of Best Actress. It was not Gaga or Glenn Close. Olivia Colman won. I know, right? Her speech was ridiculous and only made me wish even more that someone else had won.
Guillermo del Toro presented Best Director despite having a fever the day before. God, I love that man. He presented the award to his friend Alfonso Cuarón. I'd been rooting for Spike Lee or Pawlikowski. In his speech, Cuarón said "As artists, our job is to look where others don't."
Finally, Green Book won Best Picture. If you're like me, this is probably disappointing news. Let me guess: You really wanted Black Panther, A Star Is Born, or Bohemian Rhapsody to win. Am I right? So what happened? The way the votes are counted is hard to explain. But basically, everyone had something different down on their ballot as their number one choice for Best Picture. The vote was split several ways. But everyone had the same movie down as their second choice: Green Book. And why not? It's one of the most likeable movies of the year. It's a total crowd pleaser.
It’s also the least groundbreaking and least challenging of the eight Best Picture nominees. And compared to the amazing slate of movies that came out this year that dealt with race (The Hate U Give, Widows, BlacKkKlansman, If Beale Street Could Talk, Black Panther, Roma, Sorry To Bother You, etc.), Green Book’s treatment of the theme was the least profound.
Sometimes that’s what you get with populism. They tried to vote on the funniest joke in the world several years ago. This is what won: Q: What’s pink and fluffy? A: Pink fluff! -.- Brought to you by the same collective minds who voted to name a boat Boaty McBoatface.
Remember what I said about the journey being more important than the destination in my last post?
I was really happy about Lady Gaga and Spike Lee’s wins, about First Man taking Visual Effects, and about Spider-Man getting Best Animated. This year, the speeches were especially good.
There were a record seven black Oscar winners. There were a record fifteen female Oscar winners. What a perfect cap to a beautiful year of films celebrating diversity.
You can see all of the acceptance speeches here: https://oscar.go.com/video/oscar-winners-2019/olivia-colman-accepts-the-oscar-for-lead-actress
You can see other highlights here: https://oscar.go.com/video/oscars-2019-highlights/lady-gaga-and-bradley-cooper-perform-shallow-live-at-oscars-2019
And, because I love you, here is footage of Taron Egerton and Elton John dueting on Tiny Dancer at the 27th Annual Elton John Aids Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party. You’re welcome.
That’s a wrap on Oscar season for the 91st Academy Awards.
I’ll be back soon with my coverage of the Independent Spirit Awards and my OMG super mega early coverage of Oscar contenders for the 92nd Academy Awards soon. Be the first to find out when they drop. Like the Etched in Gold Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EtchedInGold/) and subscribe to the newsletter.