“I may not have been the obvious choice, but I guess it worked out.” Rami Malek’s speech acceptance speech seemed misplaced after he won the coveted Best Actor award for his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Looking out at all the Hollywood stars dressed elegantly for this one-night event, you’d think this line would rather be projected towards the 2019 Academy Awards itself: “I guess it worked out.”
The 2019 Academy Awards, in the simplest words, was tame. If you thought the Superbowl Halftime show was adequate, you probably felt the same way watching a hostless Oscars (though I’d take the Academy over the disappointing Maroon 5 show any day). There were highs, lows, and, more importantly, in-betweens. To say the least, it wasn’t as offensive and political as usual, making it a special, regular night indeed.
In preparation for the 2019 Academy Awards, I spent a week watching all of the Best Picture nominees (as I did the year prior). Unfortunately, I was unable to see The Favourite in time, but it wasn’t like it mattered all too much, given the fact that it was turned down in almost every category it was nominated for except Best Actress – which by the way was personally the biggest shock of the night, not to mention the best speech I heard; Olivia Colman had to be one of the most down-to-earth, real people up there to speak, delivering candid lines that made me snicker at how crazy winning an Oscar actually is. But hey, I’m getting off the beaten path here, let me break down the Academy Awards in a few points:
- No Host? No Problem! While individual speeches cast a political shadow over the glamorous night, a host for the Oscars spells “dry SNL bits.” The weirdest part is, we thought we’d be lost without one this year. The 91st Oscars proved to be a smooth affair without a stand-up host to crack some hit-or-miss jokes, instead opting for several presenters to say a few lines before stating the nominees. It was time-efficient and made us realize just how meaningless a host truly is to an award show.
- Forward Thinking. Records were broken this year, as this Oscars had the most black winners of all time, the first four trophies being awarded to black women within different realms of the industry. The short film categories saw the success of a few female directors as well, and streaming services like Netflix inch closer and closer to being more of a behemoth for award shows, with Roma taking home a few trophies.
- Best Picture Controversy. Of course, you can’t have an Oscars without some ruffled feathers over the choice of Best Picture. Green Book was gifted the golden paperweight and was seen as quite the shocker by many analysts, who claim the decision wasn’t as progressive as they wanted it to be. Granted, Green Book is a safe bet; it’s Driving Miss Daisy in reverse, and features a warm theme that doesn’t seek to make big waves. Film aficionados will tell you Roma should’ve won, but hey, at least it was awarded Best Foreign Film and Director.
- Homosexuality Dominated. Amongst all themes and issues that are pushed to make the gold standard of the Academy, homosexuality has to be top-billed. Three out of the four awards given to actors were all for roles of gay men or women (Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, Mahershala Ali as Dr. Don Shirley, Olivia Colman as Queen Anne). This has been a trend established in the previous Oscars, only escalating ever-more as it is a hot topic to write around in the business.
- Best Moment (Personally). If there was any film deserving of an award that night, it was A Star Is Born for its original song, “Shallow.” The performance shared between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga was like a dream, beautifully directed and sung on that Dolby Theater stage. It was no surprise that it was fantastic, as it was both a highly-anticipated moment and a sure-bet for winning Best Original Song.
A retooling was necessary for the Academy Awards, and while some of these changes came as happenstance, it was good to see the award ceremony actually entertain instead of spark anger and spite. Sure, you’ll always have your moments where actors stand on their soapboxes for causes that you may or may not support, but hey – that’s Hollywood for you. 29.6 million people tuned into the Oscars this year, up 3.1 million viewers from last year, making a step in the right direction (even though it is deemed as the second least watched Academy Awards show of all time). Here’s to another night of gold statuettes, snubs, and beautiful pageantry!
Harrison Dove-Green is a staff writer for the Daily Runner.