You probably thought everything there was to say about the 2019 Oscars had already been said. Well, you might be right, but you haven’t heard it said by us! In typical Academic Exiles fashion, we’re super late to cover the Academy Awards, but we’re gonna do it anyway! I mean, my mom still hasn’t watched the Oscars, so it’s not like the two of us are the only people behind.
As usual, the Oscars included its fair share of highs and lows. In fact, at multiple points in the night, we experienced whiplash as exciting, well-deserved wins were followed by some big WTF moments. We break down these exciting wins and WTF moments in our recap of the highest highs and lowest lows of the night.
It’s hard for a guy to outshine the camo shorts suit of Pharrell or Spike Lee’s fabulous Prince-inspired purple ensemble, but Jason Momoa managed to do just that in his absurd Fendi velvet suit. Doesn’t it warm your heart to know that one of the last pieces designed by the legendary Karl Lagerfeld was a salmon-colored velvet suit designed to match an old scrunchie?
Honestly, Momoa’s dude-bro vibe never did much for me, but the Oscars proved that he’s more than a dude-bro with a hot bod—he’s a dude-bro with atrocious taste, and there’s something beautiful about that, even if the outfit was really, really ugly.
Our Favourite Winner
Glenn Close came to the Oscars ready to collect her statue. Donning a radiant gold gown and cape, she was the favorite to win the Best Actress award after being nominated seven times before.
But nobody expected Close to win more than The Favourite star Olivia Colman. When her name was surprisingly called out, she collected her prize with a bumbling speech and odd mouth noises befitting of the British comedic actress. She even paid her respect to Close, modestly joking, “I didn’t want it to go like this.”
Normally, someone beating Glenn Close wouldn’t make it to a list of highs, but Coleman’s shock and British awkwardness made for one of the night’s most memorable moments. Oh, and she was amazing as Queen Anne.
Glenn Close Still Won
Close didn’t take away the prize, but she and everyone else in attendance still left the theater with the greatest honor of all: The chance to view Billy Porter in a dramatic tuxedo gown designed by Christian Siriano.
The Oscars made some bullshit choices this year. Even after initiating some new, diverse blood into the Academy, crusty old white men still got their way with big wins and nominations for old-fashioned crud. But the newbies still made a dent into the white-washed Academy Awards with landmark nominations and wins.
The Academy awarded two black women for bringing Wakanda to life in Black Panther. Hannah Beachler gave a moving speech when she became the first black woman to win—or even be nominated—for Best Production Design. Ruth E. Carter also won for Best Costume Design, giving a nice shout-out to Spike Lee for giving her her start.
In a surprising move, the Academy nominated Yalitza Aparicio for Best Actress in Leading Role for her performance in Roma. This made Aparicio the first aboriginal Mexican actor to receive a nomination. Furthermore, her understated performance made her an unlikely but deserved candidate for the prize, proving that you don’t need crazy prosthetics, unhealthy weight gains or a knack for impressions to show your “acting” chops (*cough cough* Christian Bale *cough cough* Rami Malek).
Additionally, Domee Shi became the first female director to win Best Animated Short Feature for Bao, a charming Pixar short celebrated for its depiction of the immigrant experience and a ridiculously cute dumpling. With these awards and nominations, the Oscars continue to slowly but surely move toward being a little less white and a little less masculine.
Last but not least, Roma received a heap of awards and nominations. Such high praise isn’t totally unprecedented for Alfonso Cuaron, who won Best Director for Gravity, but it is a big deal for a foreign language film, especially one that centers on the life of a female, Mexican domestic worker.
Plus, with Roma’s recognition as well as Period. End of Sentence’s win for Best Short Documentary, this is the first year that Netflix original productions left a major mark at the Oscars. Whether Netflix is ruining or improving the film industry remains a hot topic of debate, but maybe this will mean more masterpieces streaming on our devices instead of garbage. With Netflix set to promote a new Martin Scorsese film this year, the streaming service is set to become a formidable force in the movie industry that not even Steven Spielberg can stop.
Weren’t you worried the show would be boring without a host? Wait, you weren’t? You mean, you didn’t miss Jimmy Kimmel’s long bit in which he brought random people into the ceremony, or when he repeated a similar bit the next year?
Yeah, nobody seemed to miss the hosts, and those who did are wrong. I think people legitimately watch the awards ceremony to see people win awards and celebrate film, not to watch a sad host desperately try to make this event funny or entertaining. Maybe the Academy finally got that into their heads after the outlash when they initially decided to cut most of the performances for the Best Song nominations and hand out some awards during commercials as well as the overwhelming approval when they ditched a host.
Who needs Kevin Hart when you have Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry in outrageous costumes; Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph beginning the night with some fun banter; Keegan Michael Key floating down with an umbrella; and, most importantly, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s performance of “Shallow” which gave us some Old Hollywood magic?
Some people still say that a host coming in every once in a while could inject some energy into the night, but I’m not convinced. The excitement of an awards show comes primarily from the awards themselves. Sure, there’s gonna be some dull speeches and categories that are less interesting than others, but there will also be Samuel L. Jackson embracing Spike Lee, a group of people acting like a hot mess when they win for Best Live Action Short Film or Chris Evans helping Regina King with her dress when she wins her first Oscar, and that’s mainly what I want to see. I don’t need an extra 30+ minutes of bullshit.
And the Award Goes To. . . Those White Guys!
On February 10, 2019, a shocking event upset the balance of the universe. This was, of course, the Grammys, which managed to award the right people and not piss everyone off. How would the universe set itself right after an unexpected night of deserved wins?
Fortunately, we regained some balance on the night of February 24th when the Academy fulfilled its cosmic duty by awarding Green Book with the coveted prizes for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. As the sea of white people (and Mahershala Ali and Octavia Spencer) ascended the stage, order was restored to the universe. The Oscars successfully quelled the progressive wave that was attempting to quiet the roaring seas of the film industry’s relentless racism, sexism, heteronormativity and poor taste.
Okay, in all seriousness, I must admit to be one of the dummies who initially enjoyed this film. The banter between Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen cracked up everyone in the audience, and I was not immune to their charms. Having said that, I also felt that several interesting aspects of these characters and their relationship went to the wayside in favor of a story that championed how we can end racism by just being friends with black people. I’m afraid it’s not that simple.
But I mentally chucked this film into the ash heaps of hell once Stephanie dropped this bombshell: The screenwriters didn’t even consult the family of Don Shirley. So yeah, this film about a talented, black, gay performer and his white bodyguard/driver exclusively privileged the perspective of the white guy.
According to the Shirley family, this movie was wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong—the phrase “symphony of lies” was used, exactly what you want from a biopic screenplay. They claim he wasn’t ashamed of being an African American, disconnected from his family, or even friends with Tony—all major character traits in the movie. I get that families of people depicted in biopics often get huffy, but this actually seems worthy of outrage.
In other words, Green Book isn’t based on the true story of Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga. It’s based on Nick Vallelonga’s memories of his notoriously bullshitting father and the director of Dumb and Dumber’s naive views on racism. Doesn’t that sound deserving of the movie industry’s biggest prizes?
Bohemian Rhapsody Shouldn’t Be the Champion
In an almost equally bizarre move from the Academy, Bohemian Rhapsody won for Best Editing. Yeah, the movie that included a seen that went viral specifically for its terrible editing. The only semi-logical conclusion is that this was a sympathy win, an award for saving a film that seemed destined to fall apart after director/shit bag Bryan Singer was fired. But should we really honor someone for salvaging this thing?
This wasn’t the movie’s only undeserved win. This has been an awkward awards season that found both of us actively rooting against an actor we admire: Rami Malek. Malek managed to capture Freddie Mercury’s electric performances (even while lip syncing), but the character didn’t receive the depth he deserved, owing to a poor script and distracting prosthetic teeth that made it difficult for Malek to fully serve the role. Poor Bradley Cooper.
I Guess the Oscars Won’t Be Your Neighbor
We turned on our television sets already mildly disappointed because of some notable snubs. Sure, some of our choices were long shots—Teen Titans Go to the Movies for Best Animated Picture, Ethan Hawke for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Toni Collette for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Michael B. Jordan for Best Actor in a Supporting Role—but our other picks were industry favorites.
The original screenplay category was just a total fuck-up, not just in its awarding of Green Book but also in snubbing Eighth Grade. Eighth Grade was a critical darling, marking an exciting directorial debut from Bo Burnham and a breakout performance from its young lead, Elsie Fisher, but the writing was the real star, nailing the dialogue of insecure teenagers. Unfortunately, one of the year’s best movies received zero love from the Academy, scoring no nominations.
But the biggest snub of all was Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the most talked-about documentary feature of the year. Though we have some misgivings about the movie, it’s still well-crafted and tells a heart-warming story about Mr. Rogers and the importance of kindness and valuing the feelings of children. Expected to win the award for Best Documentary, the film wasn’t even nominated. The award went to the story of some dumbass climbing a mountain without ropes. Sure, the movie was a technical feat, but we would’ve preferred the winner to be a feel-good movie, not a movie that made you feel terrified, stressed and frustrated with the protagonist.
For us, another big snub was Burning, a South Korean masterpiece that didn’t make it into the Best Foreign Language Picture category. Oh, and we were also disappointed to see that Bradley Cooper didn’t earn a nod for Best Director. Oh, and no women were nominated for Best Director. On top of that, neither If Beale Street Could Talk nor Can You Ever Forgive Me? broke the Best Picture category, despite tremendous critical acclaim. Damn . . . . A lot of deserved nominees were sidelined in favor of Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody.