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Courtesy of Patrick T Fallon / The New York Times

February 26, 2019

Oscars Recap: No Host and One Big Surprise

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On Sunday Night, the 91st Academy Awards, despite pre-show waffling on whether to present certain categories off-air or to institute a “Best Popular Picture” category, plugged along without a host for the first time since 1989. Following would-be presenter Kevin Hart’s step out of the spotlight after myriad homophobic tweets from 2009 and 2010 surfaced, the Academy instead opted to place a carousel of movie stars, comedians and other celebrities at the helm. They did just fine for the most part, carrying the ceremony to a 202-minute runtime, which, while thankfully bring down from last year’s four-hour marathon, was still longer than the organization’s announced future intent of a sub-three-hour show.

Anyway, the “minor” categories went more or less as expected. Vice took home the hardware for Makeup and Hairstyling, beating out Mary Queen of Scots. Damien Chazelle’s First Man overcame an impressive crowd to snag Visual Effects while losing each of the other three awards for which it was nominated. Free Solo, the story of Alex Honnold’s historic climb of Yosemite’s El Capitan, won Best Documentary Feature and Period. End of Sentence., a story about Indian women fighting the taboos surrounding menstruation in their country, picked up Documentary Short.

Pixar’s Bao, released alongside Incredibles 2, got the award for Animated Short Film while Skin grabbed its live-action counterpart. Although Netflix’s Roma lost out on Best Picture, it brought home Cinematography and Best Foreign Language Film, only further cementing the streaming platform’s place among the critical big boys.

Despite being nominated in six categories, BlacKkKlansman came away with only Best Adapted Screenplay, much to Samuel L. Jackson’s delight, while Green Book won Original Screenplay. To round out those categories for which our staff did not publish predictions, Black Panther won big with Original Score, Costume Design and Production Design while Bohemian Rhapsody grabbed Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

As it did at the Globes, and as we predicted, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse fended off Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet and Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs for Best Animated Feature Film. Contrary to our pick, however, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow” (from A Star is Born) outmatched “All the Stars,” written by Kendrick Lamar and SZA, for Black Panther. Regina King and Mahershala Ali, our picks and start-to-finish favorites, nabbed the hardware for Best Supporting Actress and Actor for their roles in If Beale Street Could Talk and Green Book, respectively.

In what was a historically diverse race for Best Director, Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, despite a late surge from the Greek Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), accepted the award from countryman Guillermo del Toro for Roma, also trumping the Polish Pawel Pawlikowsko (Cold War) as well as Spike Lee (Klansman) and Adam McKay (Vice).

Olivia Colman, in a surprise to many (which, considering her speech, apparently included herself), beat out our favorite Yalitza Aparicio and Vegas’ favorite Glenn Close for her leading role in The Favourite, overcoming what could’ve been a split vote, as Colman saw two other actresses from her film nominated in the Supporting category.

Again, as with the Globes but contrary to our prediction, Rami Malek took home the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his depiction of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, beating out Bradley Cooper’s Jackson Maine and Christian Bale’s Dick Cheney.

To this point, though our staff’s picks were four for seven, I personally had no real qualms with how the night was going. I would’ve liked to see A Quiet Place win Sound Editing and personally might’ve given Cooper the nod for Actor, but I felt strongly about neither. That brings us to Best Picture, the crown jewel of the night and, supposedly, the best film released in 2018. And they gave it to Green Book.

To say it mildly, Green Book’s win came out of left field for me. Despite the film’s inherent Oscar-ness in being essentially (and reductively) a reverse Driving Miss Daisy, its ensnarement in a series of political controversies left many doubting it could come out of what was a fairly solid group. To Spike Lee, who was more than a little visibly agitated at the result, and many others, this win put a sour cap on what was otherwise a ceremony indicating that the Academy had taken a couple steps in a better, more inclusive direction.

Nick Smith is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at nsmith@cornellsun.com.