The Academy Awards have all been dished out – none of them in the commercial breaks! – with "Green Book" winning the evening's biggest award, "Bohemian Rhapsody" winning the most trophies and the audience winning because Rob Lowe and Snow White never showed up to replicate their famous duet from the last time the Oscars had no host.
But who really won? And who really lost? And who really feels bad that Bradley Cooper's partner had a front-row seat to watch that steamy performance of "Shallow"? Let's talk the good, the bad and the "Green Book" from last night's Academy Awards.
Winner: The show itself
Well huh! After months of donning hazmat suits in preparation for the world's largest recorded dumpster fire, the host-less, aggressively shortened Oscars telecast was ... quite good! It's like we smelled something rotten and cautiously followed the wafting odor only to find a plate of delicious, freshly baked cookies at the end! I LIKE THIS GAME!
The presenters were actually funny when they were supposed to be. (If we're going to go back to a host next year, I nominate Melissa McCarthy and her rabbit puppets.) There were no pointless "the wonder of the movies" montages, desperately trying to convince an audience already there to appreciate cinema to appreciate cinema MORE. The music performances ranged from great to, at worst, good bathroom breaks. And it was done with plenty of time for ABC to plug "Whiskey Cavalier" 52 more times before the premiere of "Whiskey Cavalier." Everybody wins!
The only part where the lack of a host hurt was at the very end, when Best Picture presenter Julia Roberts awkwardly had to sign off as if she had no idea that was the final award of the night. But you probably didn't even see that, because everybody turns the Oscars off anyways as soon as the final envelope is opened.
Say what you will about the winners (and oh boy, will I), but the show itself was an utter success – moving fast and succinctly without sacrificing the pomp, the entertainment and, most important really, the messiness that fans love to hate or hate to love about the Academy Awards. It was still the Oscars, just streamlined and without a 15-minute comedy routine to kill the energy right at the start of the show. (There would've been so many "Bird Box" jokes. By the end, we only got one. Phew.)
Even without knowing the viewership numbers – which may be down again, but as with all modern day ratings, that'll say more about new TV viewing habits than the Oscars' relevance – it seems obvious: This should be the way forward. Maybe we just cut the two months of the world's worst decisions leading to the show next time.
Loser: Green Book
Well ... it WAS going well. We should've known things were going to end rough when "Green Book" came away with the Best Original Screenplay prize – but indeed, an hour later, the segregation era race dramedy came away with the night's biggest win, scoring a Best Picture win for a movie about a white racist who teaches a black guy how to be more black and in return learns that perhaps racism is bad and that people of all races can drink out of the same cups. A movie about driving a black man through the hell of the segregated South so a white guy can learn that he was value and worth, too. A movie with an increasingly in-question true story, as co-written by a man who very eagerly wanted to tell Donald Trump that, yes, Muslims are bad.
Listen, I'm happy if you enjoyed "Green Book." It's competently made, well-performed by half of its leading cast (notice that nobody's grumbling too much about Mahershala Ali's Best Supporting Actor win) and, in general, a nice, well-intended, adequate production. But boy, do the words "competently made," "nice" and "adequate" scream the year's greatest achievement in the film medium?
Given its workman-like filmmaking and old-school "why can't we be friends/black man servicing of a white man's story" racial politics, "Green Book" feels like the Oscars were picking the best movie of 30 years ago – and it literally was; "Driving Miss Daisy" won all those decades in ago. Have we really gotten nowhere in terms of our thoughts on filmmaking and race in America in all that time? Actually, don't answer that.
Normally, when the Oscars make a bad pick, there's a bit of a grace period between the choice and the reassessment. But the win for "Green Book" immediately rings retrograde and embarrassingly basic. The Los Angeles Times quickly deemed it "the worst Best Picture in more than a decade" in a scathing but smartly argued piece, while memes delectably torched Twitter.
Green Book voted based on economic reasons. — Luke Perrin (@glukeperrin) February 25, 2019
Some of Green Book’s best friends are black movies. — Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) February 25, 2019
The Oscars are no strangers to selecting winners that don't stand the test of time. "Green Book" thus far hasn't survived the test of a day. And I doubt the reaction will get better with age.
To its credit, at least "Green Book" gave us these Spike Lee reaction videos.
Asked about "Green Book," Spike Lee decided it was time for more Champagne.
Full #Oscars coverage: https://t.co/GrNpbW052c pic.twitter.com/lTaEaS6SPH — AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) February 25, 2019
Even if you thought the hit song from "A Star is Born" was tired and overplayed, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's headlining duet in the middle of the show lived up the hype and more. Gaga's voice was pristine and jaw-dropping per usual, the show eschewed the typical dry intro for a surprising natural transition into the performance and the number was gorgeously and intimately shot – and that's before the two began sharing the same the piano bench and lighting the damn thing on fire with sexual chemistry.
Oh god, it's the Canadian ice skating pairs team all over again. JUST SEX ALREADY!
Loser: The other four Best Original Song nominees
Listen, we all knew "Shallow" would win – and the Oscars telecast did not bother to hide that fact! From showing pretty much the entire performance (including the stagehands moving the stage) to luxuriating in the song rather than rushing through it, they might as well have just given Gaga and Cooper the trophies and the podium as soon as they were done. It's not like any one else nominated in the category bothered writing a speech, anyways.
Not to sound like a children's television show, but the real winner of the Oscars was honestly the friends we met along the way.
In addition to Best Picture going to a story "inspired by a true friendship," there was Samuel L. Jackson ecstatically announcing that his good friend Spike Lee finally won his overdue Academy Award, scoring Best Adapted Screenplay with "BlacKkKlansman" and scoring the happiest hug I've ever seen in my life.
That was just some nice foreshadowing and script work on the part of the awards show, though. (There was a feeling that Spike would win somewhere Sunday night, and screenplay seemed like the best bet, so why not book Samuel L. Jackson to co-present that prize.) As for Best Director, however, that was just fate getting charmingly cheeky, as last year's winner, Guillermo del Toro, got to present his dear friend Alfonso Cuaron with his second career directing Oscar. What a warm and cozy night – and not because we were all gathered around the garbage fire that we expected going in!
Loser: This guy
He may never get back up.
Despite winning the box office for the past decade, Marvel's never won at the Oscars – until Sunday night. Thanks to "Black Panther," the comic book movie behemoth scored its first trophies, many of them unexpected thanks to its technical wins for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design over much more typically appreciated, foofy period dress and decor.
The awards were much deserved, blending an overall Afrofuturistic design into specific and thoughtfully chosen cultural references and touchstones. Going into the night, however, prognosticators were low on "Black Panther" winning anything as many voters seemed lukewarm on handing the blockbuster any prizes – whether it's due to a feeling that Marvel films come from a factory's vision rather than an artist's vision, or just a general resentment against comic book films and their impact on Hollywood. Or maybe they just didn't like the movie all that much. But these awards showed that they viewed and respected "Black Panther" as more than just a popular movie achievement, and that they saw it as an artistic one as well. For a moment, there was even a feeling it could ride these early awards to Best Picture, forgetting the lessons taught by "Gravity" and "Mad Max: Fury Road" in the past. Oh well.
Marvel may have lost Best Picture, but at the end of the night, it won a feeling of acceptance amongst the hoity-toity Academy. And if that's not enough, it's also got billions of dollars to help dry its tears.
This was supposed to be the year. The Big Red Streaming Behemoth put all hands on deck for Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma," giving it a ferocious awards season push that even involved sullying itself with *GASP* a theatrical release.
But even though it scored a tie for the most nominations and three wins Sunday night – not including a win in Best Live Action Documentary Short – the movie came up short where Netflix oh-so-desperately desired: Best Picture. A win there would've officially legitimized the streaming service's approach artistically and put it at the adults table with the rest of the studios, making it an even bigger player for film's largest stars and creators. Instead, it's just another nominee – and considering two of its three awards went to Cuaron alone for Best Director and Best Cinematography, the vibe is that the Oscars were honoring his particular work and achievements, not the studio's.
Don't feel too bad for Netflix, though. It seems like they're already looking ahead to next year ...
Already in LOVE with this film. A truly iconic combination of actors, writer and director. The Irishman, directed by Martin Scorsese... in theaters and on Netflix this fall. pic.twitter.com/de5bzEqbEi — Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) February 25, 2019
Winner: Rami Malek versus the Best Actor field
"Bohemian Rhapsody," a movie directed by an alleged pedophile and rapist, ended up the year's most awarded movie, so that's a great look for the #MeToo era!
In fairness, at least the film's wins were the ones it was closest to deserving. Sound Mixing and Sound Editing make sense for a movie that climaxes with a big great concert, while Editing makes sense (no really!) if you view it through the voters' lens that John Ottman basically had to serve as the film's director thanks to Bryan Singer getting fired and barely being on set. If you like Queen biopic (and judging from the nominations and the $200 million box office take, many of you did) and you're in the mood to rewrite history and erase Singer from existence, he's the man to credit behind the camera.
And then there's the man in front of the camera. Malek's taken a beating over the past few months as "Bohemian Rhapsody" went from pleasantly campy hit to preposterous Oscar candidate, but he still helps make a lot of what works in "Bohemian Rhapsody" work. His Freddie Mercury is compelling and enjoyable to watch, and with a better script, it could've morphed into more than just an imitation. Still, this category was weak this year – and "Bohemian Rhapsody" smartly seized on that, campaigning a big, fun performance in a quintet of mostly bleh drama turns. So congrats to Rami Malek.
Loser: Rami Malek versus gravity
While Malek climbed to the top of the podium, his descent was a little less graceful. Apparently the "Bohemian Rhapsody" star biffed it, falling off the stage after the cameras cut to commercial. It was a tumble brutal enough to bring paramedics down to him and pull him aside to a private room, but he seemed fine at all the post-Oscars parties. Maybe that was just the alcohol and the adrenaline from winning the award, and he's waking up this morning with his arm bent in the wrong direction.
No matter the case, how dare the Oscars production team not get any footage of this. I TAKE BACK ALL MY COMPLIMENTS, SHOW!
Winner: Olivia Colman
In the night's biggest surprise, it was neither Lady Gaga's superstar turn nor Glenn Close's lifetime achievement narrative that won Best Actress but a British actress mostly known as a character actress in America. It's the correct pick – not only because her turn in "The Favourite" is surprisingly soulful in between the hilarious screeches, but because we got her utterly delightful speech, which was rambling, overwhelmed and dumbstruck in the most charming way possible. She called her own win "hilarious." She blew a raspberry at the people asking her to speed up. She outed her husband's crying. She said to her idol Close that "this is not how she wanted it to be." She devolved into just thanking anyone and everyone who came into her eye line.
In short, her speech was perfect. Long live the queen.
Loser: Glenn Close
After an awards season seemingly leading up to finally giving the seven-time nominee an Oscar as a make-good, the voters realized that, hold on a second, none of them actually watched "The Wife" and instead handed Best Actress to Colman (the most deserving candidate of the bunch, in my opinion). Close even came dressed in Oscars gold Sunday night. We'll only have ourselves to blame for "Albert Nobbs 2" next year.
Winner: The victory speech for "Period. End of Sentence."
And to think the Academy wants people to come on stage, be professional, read off some names and genteel thoughts, and then leave. Boo, I say! The best speeches are those where the person is speaking from their heart because they've lost all feeling in their brains and mouths from shock. It was joyful and messy and funny and brought it all home with a good message.
'Period. End of Sentence' wins Best Documentary Short: "You are empowering women from all over the world to fight for menstrual equality" https://t.co/cd43lbssdk #Oscars pic.twitter.com/R0xrgdNS8u — Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 25, 2019
Keep stuff like this, please. If we're going to axe anything, knock off the weird VH1 Rock Honors opening with Queen – even if it harshes Javier Bardem's buzz.
Loser: Amy Adams
Normally you have to be several decades deep into a long career to be consistently disrespected and shutout at the Oscars – which either says something about Amy Adams's impressive career or something about the Academy Awards getting meaner. The actress has been nominated six times already in less than 15 years ... with absolutely no trophies to show for it, a trend that continued Sunday night as the "Vice" actress lost out in Best Supporting Actress to the very deserving Regina King from "If Beale Street Could Talk." I like to imagine Adams and Glenn Close got totally plastered together at an afterparty. They've deserved it.
Despite what the final award would tell you, the Academy has come a long way since #OscarsSoWhite.
Black men won in Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as co-directed the Best Animated Feature win for "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse." A Mexican man won Best Cinematography and Best Director – the fifth time in six years that director has gone to an artist from America's Southern neighbor. A record number of women scored Oscars with 15, while "Black Panther" made history one more time as production designer Hannah Beachler and costume designer Ruth E. Carter became the first black women to win in each of their respective categories.
The night may have ended with what many consider to be a step back, but if you watched the entire ceremony, you saw a massive march forward across the board. Now to get Best Picture on the same page ...
Loser: Oscar prognosticators
If you wanted evidence that the Academy is currently in the midst of some violent tectonic shifts, the 2019 Oscars were a smoking gun with fingerprints and a signed confession. Just look at the screenplay categories, where "Green Book" and "BlacKkKlansman" won back-to-back.
Much like the country itself, the old guard and the new generation are digging their boots into the ground and battling it out for control. This year, an old-fashioned choice won, but the past two years were massive twists in the usual Oscar playbook, new voices and faces championed over the old cliches and dusty ideas. Yes, the night ended with a crowd of old white men on stage – but for the first hour, you couldn't find one alone claiming victory as women and people of color scored historic wins. Instead of a make-good lifetime achievement award for Best Actress, they gave it to the honest-to-goodness best performance. Sure, "Bohemian Rhapsody" almost won Best Picture – but so did a black-and-white, starless foreign film on a streaming platform! WHAT IS THIS WORLD?!
In conclusion, the old expectations of the Oscars don't apply anymore ... except when they do, and the new Academy members are making their mark ... except when they don't. The only rule anymore is that chaos does. It's a total grab bag, and it'll make for some fascinating awards seasons – and some absolutely awful years for predicting the winners. Maybe don't put any money down for the next few rounds.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.