Theme this year: Desperation.
And the Award Goes to…The Academy for Trying Too Hard. They were attempting (again) to answer the criticism about the fact only one of the acting nominees was a person of color (Cynthia Ervio) and only men were nominated as Best Director, so they grabbed every person of color in Hollywood to appear in the telecast. Sort of like Pete Buttigieg’s rally in Iowa where they seemed to have not only grabbed every black person in the state, but seemingly bussed in some from other states.
I want diversity but they’re trying too hard and it seems like tokenism. Is there a way to win this game? Yes, continue supporting projects produced and created by POCs, which can make money, lots of money (think “Black Panther”) which will put more films of diversity and quality in contention; also, change the nominating process to counteract the dominance of white straight males in the Academy.
This tokenism was very distracting and irritating as the show continued until women and people of color (well, Bong Joon-ho, winning everything) began to win awards. It seemed the collective conscience of the Academy saw the injustice – or rather the embarrassing perception – that resulted from the nominations, and tried to right the wrongs and voted accordingly.
Anyhow, here are my notes as the show unfolded:
The opener: Janelle Monae and Billy Porter! Talented beyond most in that theater. But I swear I heard her singing “Oscar So White”. Did I?
Steve Martin and Chris Rock who both previously hosted the show, joke that being presenters was a downgrade. However, I do think the hostless Oscars is better.
Brad Pitt wins Best Supporting Actor – quite deserving. I loved his comment saying he was told to keep his speech to 45 seconds, which he noted was longer than they gave John Bolton to testify (i.e. at the Trump Impeachment trial).
Great musical number for “Frozen 2”: Fun idea, having women from around the world who dub and sub for Idina Menzel (pronounced just how it’s spelled) sing “Into the Unknown” in their native languages along with Idina Menzel. Made an average song much more enjoyable and dramatic.
Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves who costarred in “Something’s Gotta Give”: she’s now an old kookie lady and hilarious as usual, even if a little physically wobbly which is disturbing to see.
Best Original Screenplay to Bong Joon Ho for “Parasite”! Wow.
Natalie Portman and Timothy Chalamet: What is he wearing—a formal tracksuit? Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Taika Waititi. Great as he dedicated the award to indigenous kids who want to do art and dance and tell stories.
Shia Lebouf and his costar Zack Gottsagen. Quite touching to see them together, since Shia’s friendship with Zack has apparently turned his life around.
Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig need to get back together for another “Bridesmaids”! Love them like I love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
Clever ad with “The Connors” watching themselves watch the Oscars.
An intro bit featuring Greta Nunberg talking about how documentaries showing her the state of the climate is what inspired her to act. Now if we can get some documentaries on the mess in Washington.
I loved the idea of Lin Manuel Miranda introducing clips showing the marriage of songs and movies with “Don’t You Forget About Me”, “Purple Rain”, “My Heart Will Go On”, “I Will Always Love You”, “Tiny Dancer”, Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Footloose”, “Mrs. Robinson”, “Lady Marmalade”, and “Deliverance”? However, as a lead-up to Eminem? Yuck. Martin Scorsese nodded off.
Then Randy Newman. Why? He can’t sing. Can’t they revive the old tradition, when it’s justified, of not having the original artists perform their songs – y’know like Barry Bostwick doing “Footloose” on a trampoline in spandex with headband – ah, the good old days.
Another rap interlude with Utkarsh Ambudkar who I know from “Brittany Runs a Marathon”. I like him, but why? The show’s desperate to look hip. Wasn’t rap hip 20 years ago?
Tom Hanks announces the Academy Museum opening on December 14, 2020. Just a few blocks from where we live!
Cynthia Erivo sings “Stand Up”. Amazing to find out she co-wrote the song, so was nominated for two Academy Awards
James Corden and Rebel Wilson come out in “Cats” outfits! Hi-larious! Acknowledging their spectacular flop turned it into a big win, at least for them. “As cast members of the motion picture ‘Cats’ no one understand the need for good visual effects.” Indeed.
Best Makeup – How did “Bombshell” win? Nicole Kidman looks like a Star Trek alien.
International Feature Film – “Parasite” over “Pain and Glory”. They changed the name of the award from Foreign to International and Boon commented on how happy he was with this.
Elton John sings his original song from “Rocketman” that was a duet but doing it without Taron Egerton? Falling out? Disappointed not to see both of them.
Taika Waititi announces the Academy acknowledges Hollywood is on lands once occupied by native Americans. I hadn’t heard about this, although it makes sense.
Sigourney Weaver, Brie Larson, Gal Gadot get in some banter on not just Oscar’s lack of female recognition but of Hollywood’s. Pointed but with good humor.
Wow, Hildur Guðnadóttir, an actual female wins for Best Score for “Joker”! She’s Icelandic. We’re knew her first! She was one of the composers on the Icelandic series “Trapped”, which we love.
Best Song: Elton and Bernie! Not their best song, but perhaps a vote for their career of amazing songs. Loved Elton giving a shout out to his sons, “How much do I love you? Daddy loves you.”
Spike Lee presents Best Director. Bong Joon-ho! Who mentions a quote that inspired him: “The most personal is the most creative.” It was a quote by Martin Scorsese. The audience ends up standing for Scorsese.
Spielberg introduces In Memorium. Billie Eilish sings “Yesterday”, not bad. Kirk Douglas ends the list. That one hurts. Along with his great performances, he helped break the Hollywood Blacklist.
Olivia Coleman does her best awkward Olivia Coleman. Love her. Best Actor, Joaquin Phoenix. Seemed to be having a breakdown, although I agreed with what he said.
Rami Malek for Best Actress: Wow, now those were great performances! Renee Zellwegger wins! She’s a bit rambling, but like what she’s trying to say, about countering our negative world by looking to our heroes who bring people together instead of tearing them apart. Obama?
Last award. Jane Fonda with grey hair! “Parasite” wins! They try to shut it down after the first speaker, but the audience gets them to raise the lights again.
Overall, good show. I think without a host, the writers are able to craft each segment and bit of banter beforehand, without waiting for the host to freeform it during the show. Of course, some hosts and the writers do come up with fun bits inspired by what happens during the show, but not everyone can. I do think James Corden would be an excellent host, though. Maybe next year?