After so many public missteps on the part of The Academy leading up to tonight’s Oscars, we were as surprised as anyone when the host-less show actually went pretty well! Obvious lows (multiple wins for Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody) aside, there really was a lot to celebrate tonight. From Spike Lee winning his long overdue first competitive Oscar, to history-making wins in the Costume and Production Design categories (yay, Black Panther!), the night went quickly and had its share of fun surprises. Your friendly neighborhood Oscars Recappers—Meg Kearns, Erin Vail, and Sydney Mineer—are breaking down our favo(u)rite and least favorite moments for you.
While Bao’s win may not have been surprising to the many people who saw the short film before Incredibles 2 and fell in love, the acceptance speech from director Domee Shi and producer Becky Neiman-Cobb was a refreshing high point in an otherwise predictable night thus far. This is the value of presenting so-called “smaller” awards like this live: seeing two not-super-famous people who we’ve never seen before just give a really solid, inspiring speech. Shi shouted out all the “nerdy girls” of the world and told us not to be afraid to tell our stories, while Neiman-Cobb spoke about the joy of producing this film about motherhood while she herself was becoming a mother for the first time.
When the team from Period. End of Sentence. got on stage for their win in the doc category, the girl power continued: “I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything, I’m crying because a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” Is this the first time menstruation has been mentioned by name in an Oscars telecast? Thanks to these winners’ speeches, I’ve never found the destigmatization of periods in India and around the world more charming and inspiring, and I’m definitely going to check out their film (thanks, Netflix!).
In general, I am very anti- the “It’s Their Time” Oscar, because here’s the thing: It’s almost never awarded for the actual most-deserving performance of a given career! So all season, I’ve been bracing myself for Glenn Close’s seemingly inevitable win for The Wife. But then. But then!
The Oscar goes to Olivia Colman! For a unique, weird, hilarious, sad performance in The Favourite! A first-time nominee beats the heavily-favored seven-time nominee! While the Best Picture category is seemingly harder and harder to predict every year, the acting categories have gotten more and more predictable. There were signs all along, of course. Colman won at the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes (although, so did Close). But this was still a capital-U Upset, a huge surprise the likes of which we haven’t seen at the Oscars in years, and you could tell from the energy in the room as soon as Colman’s name was announced. Her speech was delightful to watch (she quipped “It’s really quite stressful” and “This is hilarious!” when handed her trophy onstage), her win was well-deserved, and I’ve never been so happy to have my Oscar ballot ruined
OK, so I haven’t seen Free Solo, and its winners seemed very cool and gave a nice speech. No disrespect to them. But this was another predictable win, and one where I was really, really hoping for an upset. I’m not a huge watcher of documentaries, so I was surprised coming into tonight that this was one of the categories I cared most about.
I was actively rooting for Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap, and I would have loved to have seen him pull off a win and shine a light on his special film. What starts off as a story about kids skateboarding in a forgotten Rust Belt suburb turns into something much more: a meditation on masculinity, capitalism, and cycles of violence that remains clear-eyed yet hopeful about all of these issues. I can’t recommend it enough, and lucky for anyone who’s not seen it yet, you can fix that now over on Hulu!
This category is typically reserved for Disney/Pixar’s yearly offering, and while I did enjoy Incredibles 2, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse redefined both animation as a format and superhero movies. The emotional beats, soundtrack, look, and feel of Into the Spider-Verse represented the best in animation this year, not to mention the power of representation woven into the film’s central message: that anyone can wear the mask. Plus, it had the best bagel related joke of the year. I look like the heart eyes emoji in real life when I talk about Into the Spider-Verse. I loved this movie, and I’m so glad it won.
It’s 2019, and a Marvel movie has three Oscars! Black Panther was a bonafide phenomenon, and I was thrilled to see the people responsible for the world of Wakanda were recognized: Ruth Carter for Costume Design, Ludwig Goransson for Original Score, and Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart for Production Design. These winners were able to fully immerse the audience in the sound, set, and audio of Wakanda, setting the vibe of Black Panther apart from any other Marvel movie and demonstrating how distinct superhero films can be. While I would have loved to see Ryan Coogler get a Best Director nod, I was happy to see BP clean up.
A complaint going into these Oscars was that the ceremony is normally overstuffed with self-congratulatory montages that celebrate the legacy of film. I for one love a good montage and was severely disappointed that we only got one measly package in the entire three hour production.
I love movies! I want to see highlights of great movie moments or past winners! Gimme that film history, baby! Classic lines, iconic scenes, movie magic! Montages about movie magic were missing from this year’s show. My note for next year is bring back the montages, but leave out the host.
In a night with few surprises, Regina King took home the award that she had on lock since awards season began. If Beale Street Could Talk is a movie that largely slipped under the radar this awards season, but King was a standout for her fierce portrayal of a mother who would go to the ends of the earth for her daughter’s happiness. In her acceptance speech, Regina King gave an emotional tribute to her own mother declaring, “I’m an example of what it looks like when support and love is poured into someone.” As she fought back her own tears, so too did the the audience and the viewers at home. It’s always lovely to see someone who consistently puts out good work and is genuine in their words and actions take home a well deserved award.
And, as King struggled to leave her seat with her fabulous, but tenuous train holding her back, Chris Evans gallantly offered her his arm and escorted her to the stage. It’s moments like this that we continue to watch these awards shows for! You can’t write these moments, folks!
In 5 or 10 years, when people look back at this awards season, they’re going to wonder what happened to A Star Is Born and why it didn’t make the cut. When we look back on this Oscar ceremony, no one will remember that there wasn’t a host or that Green Book won over Roma (or maybe they will remember that, because it’s atrocious).
No, what they’ll remember is the most intimate, cinematic moment ever presented live on television: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga performing “Shallow” in front of all of their peers. From the moment they walked up on stage hand in hand unannounced, Lady Gaga sporting the Tiffany diamond, the whole world seemed to stop. They were the only two people left alive on Earth, and we at home were in heaven watching them. Lady Gaga let out her triumphant “Ahs” while playing the piano in what is usually the most cathartic moment of the performance, but it was emotionally overshadowed by Bradley Cooper joining her on the piano bench, their eyes closed, heads leaned together, as they sing, “We’re far from the shallow now.” After that moment, the Oscars could have abruptly ended, or the sun could have just exploded and taken the Earth with it. Because that moment right there is why we are all alive anyway.
Thankfully, Lady Gaga took home an Oscar for this song, but it is my belief that if the Academy were voting the night of this performance, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga would have taken home awards for the top acting categories as well.
Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse won Best Animated Feature, yes, but when the directors and producing team went up to accept the award and gush about a masterful film that took them four years to make, they were played off the stage and their sound was cut before everyone got an opportunity to speak. Not only was that disrespectful to everyone who worked so hard on that film, it was also disrespectful to all of the people at home who were profoundly influenced by it.
It should also have been nominated for Best Picture as it was one of the most artful, diverse, and heartfelt films of the year. The Best Animated Feature category was the “Best Popular Film” category of its day. And while I’m glad it draws attention to animated films, it doesn’t do enough to celebrate them. Into the Spider-Verse is a shining example of why the film industry should take animation more seriously because it is arguably the highest form of art as well as the most accessible.
And thus, the (Green) book is closed on another Oscars. Were you happy with the pacing of the show? Were there any upsets that surprised you? Let us know on Twitter!