The Best and Worst of the 2019 Oscars
The Best and Worst of the 2019 Oscars
In lieu of our usual Week in Review feature this week, we’re recapping the 91st Academy Awards of last night. Snubs and surprises, the best and the worst, there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to this year’s Oscars. After a tumultuous lead-up with not insignificant amounts of controversy and backtracking, the ceremony proceeded with no host and a few other changes to its program. How did they effect the biggest night in Hollywood? Let’s find out.
Green Book Wins Best Picture
The Nick Vallelonga, Peter Farrelly, and Shirley family controversies notwithstanding, Green Book is arguably the Academy’s worst Best Picture winner since 2004’s Crash. A purely middle-of-the-road crowd pleaser about a white savior overcoming his own racism, its win is particularly egregious in the company of BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, and 2017’s Best Picture winner, Moonlight. What can only be described as a redux of Driving Miss Daisy’s 1990 win over, coincidentally, Spike Lee’s far superior Do the Right Thing (Miss Daisy won Best Picture, Do the Right Thing was only nominated for Best Original Screenplay), Green Book is a reductive and baffling choice for the best film of 2018.
Bohemian Rhapsody Takes Home Four Awards
Nothing against Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury, but even without the ugly shadow of Bryan Singer’s sexual improprieties looming over the evening, Bohemian Rhapsody is at best a by-the-books musical biopic that’s rife with historical inaccuracies. Its win for Best Film Editing is particularly appalling - extremely amateur and whiplash inducing, one can argue that the film is a showcase of how not to edit a movie. Take for instance, this 1:38 second clip of John Reid (Aiden Gillen) meeting Queen for the first time; in the short span of 98 seconds there are almost 60 cuts, one of the most hyperactive examples of bad editing in recent memory.
Vice Makeup and Hairstyling Team Flubs Speech
The Academy Awards ceremony is arguably the biggest, most public event in Hollywood that occurs once a year, celebrating the best the film industry has to offer. So can we all agree that there should be a requirement for nominees to be prepared with speeches? Either memorize your speeches or speak from the heart - let Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia Dehaney of Vice be an abject lesson. Coming off a win for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, the trio fumbled and stumbled over their words for seemingly minutes on end, triggering second-hand embarrassment everywhere.
First Man Wins Best Visual Effects
A low-key surprise that likely didn’t make much of an impact on the audience, First Man’s win for Best Visual Effects Oscar is an under-the-radar triumph that calls back to halcyon days of effects work. Up against the bombast of Avengers: Infinity War, Ready Player One, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, First Man’s win highlighted the under-appreciated art of visual immersion rather than flamboyant CGI. After the consecutive years of sci-fi and fantasy yarn dominating the field with the likes of Interstellar, Ex Machina, The Jungle Book, and Blade Runner 2049, First Man is a quieter victory well-deserved.
Olivia Colman’s Charming Best Actress Speech
After last night, it isn’t hard to see why The Favourite actress Olivia Colman is considered one of England’s national treasures. Delivering one of the most humbling, least pretentious acceptance speeches of all time, Colman accepted the Best Actress award with charming humility and self-deprecating grace. Her shout-outs to her competition were heartwarming, and she even blew a raspberry when told to wrap it up. Even though Glenn Close was favored to win, one can’t help but root for Olivia Colman and her incredible performance as Queen Anne in The Favourite.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Wins Best Animated Feature
Arguably the best superhero film of the year, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse barely beat out Black Panther on my Best Films of 2018 list. Vibrant, exciting, and inventive, Into the Spider-Verse proves that it’s a great time to be a comic book fan and a movie fan, and apparently, The Academy agrees. While Black Panther is incredible in its Afro-futurism and compelling villain, I just plain had a better time with Spider-Verse. The film is buoyed by incredible animation and a charming voice cast, leaving it the only logical choice in a relatively thin competitive field.
A Great Step Forward in Diversity
Even though the thoroughly middling Green Book won the Best Picture trophy, one can’t deny that the awards have come a long way since #OscarsSoWhite in 2015. Regina King won Best Supporting Actress for the severely underrepresented If Beale Street Could Talk, while Roma and director Alfonso Cuarón took home three awards. The culturally important Black Panther also took home multiple awards, and Rami Malek became the first Arab-American to win Best Actor. Finally, director Spike Lee’s illustrious career finally resulted in an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, ending a long dry-spell.
No Host? No Problem
It seemed from the controversies that piled up for this year’s ceremony that the live broadcast would be doomed, especially with no host. But apparently, a host-less program is exactly what The Academy Awards needed. Breezy, even if it was a little bland and forgettable, the 2019 Oscars proceeded with a workmanlike efficiency that didn’t seem constipated for once. Without any showboating, grandiose interludes, and awful/insensitive musical numbers (we’re looking at you, Seth McFarlane), the awards were actually quite painless this year. Add in the fact that The Academy president’s speech was also nipped in the bud, one has to wonder if no host is the best host.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Despite my love for Guillermo del Toro, 2017’s The Shape of Water is one of the most underwhelming and forgettable Best Picture winners in recent memory (at least until this year). Instead, I recommend the fairy tale charms of del Toro’s better fantasy epic, Pan’s Labyrinth. Creepy and hauntingly beautiful, Pan’s Labyrinth tells the story of Ofelia, the stepdaughter of a sadistic Falangist army officer in 1944 Spain that looks to escape into a dark and eerie fantasy world. Pan’s Labyrinth is currently streaming on Netflix.