Monday, February 25, 2019

OSCARS 2019: THE SHOW WITHOUT A HOST, AND A HOST OF OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

What the Oscars lacked in not having a host, they didn’t completely make up for in other areas, even though the ratings are up. Here’s a look at the host-less show, some of the most surprising wins in recent years, and the most earnest, genuine speeches of the night

The show’s big opening with the Queen performance—with Adam Lambert filling Freddie Mercury’s lead-singer shoes—showed that they didn’t need a big host monologue to get the audience pumped
The numbers are in, and it turns out that going without a host did wonders for ABC in the United States, as ratings were up by over 14 percent from last year’s show. Now it wasn’t a huge overall surge, but it’s probably got producers and the network thinking that they did something right. Maybe those who tuned in really wanted to see what a host-less Oscars would be like, and I’ll have to admit I’m still on the fence about that one.

THE SHOW
The show’s big opening with the Queen performance—and with Adam Lambert filling Freddie Mercury’s lead-singer shoes—showed that they didn’t need a big host monologue to get the audience pumped. At the same time, they did give us a slight taste of host/s with the first presentation by Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph. They were hilarious, as they made jibes at the Academy’s decision to go host-less, and deciding against a popular category, and also about handing out awards in the commercial breaks. While this was undoubtedly one of the few good presentations of the evening, I thought another one was Melissa McCarthy’s with Brian Tyree Henry, where they explained the significance of costume design in the subtlest, subtlest way. In fact, her over-the-top costume with bunnies to spoof The Favourite actually reminded me of the elaborate presentations from back in the day such as Ben Stiller’s, as he appeared all colored in Avatar blue. Such are the things that I would really like to see more of again at the Oscars—because that’s what sets this show apart from other awards. In fact, for a while now, I’ve missed seeing behind-the-scenes show-reels when they introduce the nominees in categories such as visual effects and production design. Moreover, this year, they even did away with the tradition of having the previous year’s supporting actor and actress winners present to this year’s supporting actress and actor, respectively. I suspect that was in part in order to start the show with comediennes—for reasons mentioned above—presenting the supporting actress Oscar rather than Sam Rockwell, who won supporting actor last year. Yes, they could’ve started with some other category, but I suppose they chose one tradition—of starting with a supporting acting award—over the other.

THE SURPRISES AND THE SPEECHES

The Oscar-winning actors and actresses of 2019, (left to right) Rami Malek, Olivia Colman, Regina King, and Mahershala Ali
Moving on to the winners of the evening, it was an evening of surprises, which itself wasn’t a surprise, because this year’s Oscars have been called a wide-open race with hardly any clear-cut frontrunners having emerged through the awards season. Many expected Black Panther to win far more than it did—even to take away best picture—while others were sure Roma would become the first foreign language film and first streaming film to win best picture. Black Panther won a few in expected categories, But Bohemian Rhapsody emerged as the movie with the maximum wins—four, including lead actor for Rami Malek. That was an expected win, as were the supporting acting wins for Regina King and Mahershala Ali for If Beale Street Could Talk and Green Book, respectively. 

Olivia Colman wins the lead actress Oscar for The Favourite
However, the big shocker of the evening was Olivia Colman’s win for The Favourite. Yes, she deserved it for her delightfully crazy performance as the disturbed Queen Anne. But most were sure that veteran actress Glenn Close would close the deal with her seventh nomination—for The Wife—having never won before, and also because matters of gender equality are so relevant and topical these days. I was disappointed for sure, even though I knew Colman deserved it, so I don’t even know how Close felt. Colman’s acceptance speech—without a doubt the best of the evening—made me, and it seems even Glenn Close, feel better about the result. She was so endearing and honest, and didn’t have any qualms about letting it all come straight from her heart. She even practically apologized to Glenn Close, telling her that that was not how she wanted things to go. She even gave an earnest shout-out to fellow nominee Lady Gaga, which was so spontaneous and real.

And that was such a perfect example of one of the things that I love about the Oscars—we see these people at their vulnerable best. We see them reacting to this major turn in their career (and life), which many have described as an out-of-body experience. True feelings and honest emotions can most often not be masked. And that’s why an honest-to-god speech from Regina King makes me so happy that she won, even though I thought others deserved it more. That’s why speeches by winners I don’t know of, and even from films I haven’t seen, still make me feel their joy. So when it’s performances that I had even somewhat rooted for, it’s something else. Rami Malek was full of genuine gratitude in his speech, as he spoke of being an immigrant and thanked those who’d believed in him. Of course he thanked Queen, but he was tremendously expressive towards Bohemian Rhapsody co-star, Lucy Boynton, calling her the heart of the film and how she’s captured his heart. 

Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper and their phenomenal chemistry on stage
Speaking of expressiveness, one of the most expressive performances I’ve ever seen at the Oscars was Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s presentation of “Shallow”. Their chemistry had people wooing from the audience and swooning from social media. And what added immense value to the performance was the angle we saw it from, as the camera was upstage and showed us the performers with the audience as the backdrop—just like it’s been done in A Star Is Born.

The upstage camera angle for the performance of "Shallow" at the Dolby Theatre
On the contrary, the general visual presentation of the Oscars was not one to write home about this time, as the stage sets didn’t quite leave me in awe as I usually am when I see the Dolby Theatre stage on Oscar night. What didn’t make sense at all was that weird stage frame, which looked like a giant, swirling meringue, and not in a good way. That’s disappointing to me, because I look forward to things such exceptional on-show set decoration at the Oscars. And as I mentioned earlier, there were very few presentations even that grabbed my attention and sustained interest. For instance, I thought they’ll at least get all the Avengers actors to present something in a big way together, given that Captain Marvel and the Marvel Cinematic Universe finale, Avengers End Game, are upcoming releases. And I think that in a year when they had no host, these things would matter even more, but they didn’t deliver as I wished they had. In future editions of Hollywood's biggest night, I’d be okay without a host, just as long as they up their game in all these other areas.

But still, the Oscars are the Oscars, and I won’t stop looking forward to it. Besides, Green Book won!

And Green Book won best picture
THE COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS

BEST PICTURE
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
The Favourite
Green Book
Roma
A Star Is Born
Vice

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Glenn Close, The Wife

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Willem Dafoe, At Eternity's Gate
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Christian Bale, Vice

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Marina de Tavira, Roma
Amy Adams, Vice

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born
Sam Rockwell, Vice

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee
Cold War, Paweł Pawlikowski
The Favourite, Yorgos Lanthimos
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Adam McKay

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Written by Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Written for the screen by Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born, Screenplay by Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Favourite, Written by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara
First Reformed, Written by Paul Schrader
Green Book, Written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly
Roma, Written by Alfonso Cuarón
Vice, Written by Adam McKay

ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
BlacKkKlansman, Barry Alexander Brown
Bohemian Rhapsody John Ottman
The Favourite, Yorgos Mavropsaridis
Green Book, Patrick J. Don Vito
Vice, Hank Corwin

ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN
Black Panther, Production Design: Hannah Beachler; Set Decoration: Jay Hart
The Favourite, Production Design: Fiona Crombie; Set Decoration: Alice Felton
First Man, Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas
Mary Poppins Returns, Production Design: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
Roma, Production Design: Eugenio Caballero; Set Decoration: Bárbara Enríquez

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Cold War, Łukasz Żal
The Favourite, Robbie Ryan
Never Look Away, Caleb Deschanel
Roma, Alfonso Cuarón
A Star Is Born, Matthew Libatique

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
Avengers: Infinity War, Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl and Dan Sudick
Christopher Robin, Christopher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones and Chris Corbould
First Man, Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles and J.D. Schwalm
Ready Player One, Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler and David Shirk
Solo: A Star Wars Story, Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Dominic Tuohy

ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Mary Zophres
Black Panther, Ruth Carter
The Favourite, Sandy Powell
Mary Poppins Returns, Sandy Powell
Mary Queen of Scots, Alexandra Byrne

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Border, Göran Lundström and Pamela Goldammer
Mary Queen of Scots, Jenny Shircore, Marc Pilcher and Jessica Brooks
Vice, Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia DeHaney

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SCORE)
Black Panther, Ludwig Goransson
BlacKkKlansman, Terence Blanchard
If Beale Street Could Talk, Nicholas Britell
Isle of Dogs, Alexandre Desplat
Mary Poppins Returns, Marc Shaiman

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SONG)
“All The Stars” from Black Panther
Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duckworth and Anthony Tiffith; Lyric by Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, Anthony Tiffith and Solana Rowe
“I'll Fight” from RBG
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“The Place Where Lost Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns
Music by Marc Shaiman; Lyric by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
“Shallow” from A Star Is Born
Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando and Andrew Wyatt
“When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings” from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Music and Lyric by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
Black Panther, Benjamin A. Burtt and Steve Boeddeker
Bohemian Rhapsody, John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone
First Man, Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
A Quiet Place, Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
Roma, Sergio Díaz and Skip Lievsay

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
Black Panther, Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor and Peter Devlin
Bohemian Rhapsody, Paul Massey, Tim Cavagin and John Casali
First Man, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Ai-Ling Lee and Mary H. Ellis
Roma, Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan and José Antonio García
A Star Is Born, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic, Jason Ruder and Steve Morrow

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
Capernaum, Lebanon
Cold War, Poland
Never Look Away, Germany
Roma, Mexico
Shoplifters, Japan

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Free Solo
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Minding the Gap
Of Fathers and Sons
RBG

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Black Sheep
End Game
Lifeboat
A Night at The Garden
Period. End of Sentence.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Animal Behaviour
Bao
Late Afternoon
One Small Step
Weekends

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
Detainment
Fauve
Marguerite
Mother
Skin

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