Carl takes a closer look and the winners and losers from the 91st annual Academy Awards
‘Put a fork in it, it’s all done.
The 2019 awards season has come to its traditional end with the handing out of the Academy Awards. This year is the 91st annual event (Or as Tina Fey remarked, the one millionth) to be conducted and gave us the finale of award giving in the movie world. Was it a classic year? No, far from it. I can’t see this year going down in history as one of the best Oscar ceremonies to be truthfully honest. Did all the right people get their awards? No, they didn’t. This year will go down as the ‘Safe’ year, where the academy awarded the people and films they decided would keep them free of criticism. Some were truly deserved, others were reactionary wins, designed to keep the Academy free from any mudslinging. What makes it amusing is one winner has been criticised for his acceptance speech by the U.S President himself! Only in Hollywood!
First the good parts of this year’s ceremony:
The opening performance by Queen almost blew the roof of the auditorium. Never before have the Academy Awards got off to such a fantastic start. Almost the whole audience were on their feet, clapping, dancing and singing along as Brian May, Roger Taylor and Adam Lambert rocked the Oscars. This is the way to start off the show and the Academy will be hard pressed to top this year’s opening.
The first presenters to hit the stage, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hilariously opened proceedings. Fey’s quip about the one millionth Oscar ceremony had much of the auditorium in stitches. Their mocking of the years nominated films and stars was an inspiration.
No host this year as widely reported. Did the ceremony suffer because of a lack of a host? Absolutely not. Unlike the last time, the Oscars went without a host, which was car crash TV at it’s worst, this year it worked perfectly. The night went smoothly and flowed really well. The show really didn’t suffer from a lack of host and maybe the Academy will look to continue this way in future years.
The reunion of Mike Myers And Dana Carvey was a revelation. The ease in which they slipped into Wayne and Garth was exemplary. It was like watching Wayne’s World-The Middle Aged Years! This was a highlight of the highest order. Myers said he was going to hurl. Carvey said if he did, he was going to blow chunks. Classic Wayne and Garth banter. And then to have them speak about Bohemian Rhapsody and what Queen’s music meant when they were making the original Wayne’s World movie and how it formed the core of their antics in the classic car scene was truly a standout moment.
Samuel L. Jackson’s bromance with Spike Lee once again raised its head. It was fantastic to see the two of them having an almost private discussion before Jackson and Brie Larson handed out the Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. And when Spike Lee won his first Oscar outright for his adapted screenplay for Black kKlansman, Jackson almost hit the ceiling in happiness. Seeing Lee leap into Jackson’s arms when he arrived on stage and the way the friends celebrated was a joy to behold. It was perfect that Jackson was to be the one to hand Lee his award. Lee let slip a four-letter goof when accepting his award. As usual, the organisers had a timer that counted down the time the winners had to complete their acceptance speech. As Lee went to the microphone to begin his speech, he loudly stated: “Do not turn that Mother F*****g clock on”. I bet the sponsors had kittens when he uttered that! But good for him. The Oscar was long overdue and I found myself cheering when he won.
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper gave an amazing performance of the song ‘Shallow’ from A Star Is Born. They dueted live on stage and gave one of the most moving and heartfelt performances of the night. Much has been made of the look Gaga gave Cooper once they had finished their performance but to me, it was a look of respect and friendship between the pair. They gave their all on the screen and again with this performance and it showed. It was well deserved when Gaga won the Oscar for the track and she gave an emotional, heartfelt acceptance speech, speaking to all the people out there who have a dream of becoming a success in their chosen business. It was a nailed on win to be fair but it was still welcome to see her get her just rewards. Everyone knew it was her only real chance of taking home an award. Her nomination of Best Actress would in another year guaranteed her the award but she came up against two of the best performances the academy have seen in recent years and so her chance was severely diminished.
Rami Malek was a revelation with his performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody so his win was, again expected. He did face stiff competition from Christian Bale who, again in a different year would have walked off with the Oscar for his performance in ‘Vice’ but I think it was fair and really justified that Malek took the award. He personified Mercury in the film. It could have gone so wrong for him, he could have made the part look like a parody but he immersed himself in the character and all his hard work showed in his performance. A richly deserved honour for the firstborn American son of Egyptian immigrants and Malek paid tribute to his parents and others like them in a warmly received acceptance speech.
Olivia Coleman almost fainted in shock at her surprise win as Best Actress. She wouldn’t win it, would she? She was up against the many times nominated but had never triumphed Glenn Close. This was Close’s year surely. It was felt that this was her year after all the previous snubs she had received from the academy. To everyone’s surprise, Coleman swept in and took the award from under her nose. No one was more surprised than Coleman herself. She slowly managed the walk up to the podium to collect her reward and her acceptance speech was one of someone who was in a dream. Once she had collected herself, she gave a heartfelt and amusing speech, paying tribute to her co-stars, her family and her husband. When the organisers attempted to tell her to wrap up her speech, she smiled, revealed to the world they were pushing her to get off the stage and blew a good old fashioned British raspberry alongside a V sign to organisers off camera. Sorry, America, she is our new screen Queen and you don’t rush royalty like that!
Richard E Grant’s face was a picture when the legendary Barbara Streisand took to the stage. A known Streisand fan, Grant couldn’t believe he was THAT close to his idol. He was seen remarking to the people next to him about it and he looked like a real star-struck fan.
And now, sadly for the not so good:
Black Panther takes home three awards. I’m surprised. I admit the award for Best Costume Design was merited. That part of the film was impressive and was deserving of recognition but despite being an incredibly talented composer I disagree that Ludwig Goransson‘s original score was the best soundtrack of last year. Best Production Design? Questionable. In my opinion, two of the three awards it received were underserved and to be honest, I was baffled it was nominated for Best Picture. Could it be the Academy trying to address diversity after last years furore? I believe it’s to the films strength that the cast was almost entirely African American. It’s about time. And made the film that much richer. But nominate and award a film for its merits and because it deserves it, not to make a statement and make amends for past errors.
Roma wins three awards. Ok, I’m going out on a bit of a limb here. The film itself is wonderfully written, acted and directed. It does indeed deserve awards and recognition. It was a worthy winner of Best Director, Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography. It could even be Alfonso Cuaron’s masterpiece. BUT. The Oscars are for films seen at the cinema. NOT FOR A NETFLIX FILM. The very fact that it wasn’t a cinematically released film but one made for a streaming service should have automatically disqualified it from the running. Yes, I’m aware it did screen on four cinema screens for a day but that is hardly a release at all. What I’m getting at is, how long will it be before films bypass movie theatres completely, premiere on streaming services and then become major Oscar contenders?
Mahershala Ali wins his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Green Book. Ali was a revelation in the film. His performance deserved to be nominated, that’s not up for discussion. BUT. Was it the best supporting actor performance? No, it wasn’t. Sam Rockwell and Richard E Grant’s performances were that much better. Do I begrudge Ali his second win? No, I don’t, he’s one of the best actors around today and is always putting in fantastic performances. However, not unlike Tom Hanks’ back to back wins in the 1990s, it wasn’t deserved this time around. If you ask me who SHOULD have won the award, then my answer is Adam Driver for Black kKlansman. His performance in the film is nothing short of a career-best performance from the former US Marine and should rightly have been celebrated. Still, there’s still time for him to win an Oscar I guess.
Green Book wins Best Picture. WHAT? Are you kidding me? Yes, the film is heartwarming and enjoyable but does it hold a candle to Spike Lee’s Black kKlansman or The Favourite? Not a chance. Lee’s film is his masterpiece. After 40 years in the business, Lee deserved to win the best film award. His film was such a joy to behold that it should have walked away with a bagful of awards. Instead, the Academy played it conservatively and went with the ‘Safe’ choice. For Goodness sake’s, TAKE A CHANCE! Reward the film that deserves the accolades, not the one you think will make the majority happy. Spike Lee himself, when asked by a British interviewer if the film was deserving of Best Picture, he offered a very British answer by stating “It wasn’t my cup of tea”. Enough said.
First Man wins Best Visual Effects. No. Just No. I agree the effects were good and made the film a visual feast but Solo: A Star Wars Story did it so much better. Where was Aquaman‘s exquisite effects nomination? But topping them all was the effects in Ready Player One. Steven Spielberg’s delightful Ready Player One was a visual delight, bringing many of our childhood characters back to the big screen in a film that was on every critic’s best films of 2018 lists. And yet, it was overlooked. Another superb film snubbed.
In Memorium segment. I always watch this part of the ceremony with a lump in my throat, seeing all the fantastic on screen and behind the screen artists who have sadly passed on and this year was no exception. Seeing the legendary Burt Reynolds, Albert Finney all being paid tribute to on the screen with a haunting piece of music to accompany it was tear-jerking as always. BUT. Where was mention of Stanley Donat? Where was Carol Channing? Where was Julie Adams? And where was the legendary Dick Miller? All four were overlooked on the Oscar roll. Why has the Academy omitted these legendary actors, actresses and directors in this way! I’m sure there’s probably even more legends who have been cruelly overlooked for the Oscars customary tribute this year. This is supposed to be a celebration of film. Why not allocate the segment the time required to celebrate ALL the departed artists from over the past twelve months. They have all contributed to the cinematic world and deserve recognition.
Ok, Rant over! But far from being a great show, this year will be barely memorable. The good things just about outweigh the bad thankfully. But next year, the Academy needs to take a long hard look at how it and its members decide how to award the accolades. This year, there were some that were deserved. But quite a few raise an eyebrow about how they managed to be so highly rewarded. Put politics aside, don’t cater to the masses to attempt to not draw criticism and reward those deserving of such an accolade. And get Samuel L Jackson and Spike Lee to host the show. For this years Oscars will go into the pile marked ‘Forgettable’. And that in itself is a travesty.
Until next time.
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