For better and for worse, this year’s Academy Awards ceremony was perhaps the most talked-about one in recent years. This year, the lack of non-white nominees have brought forth a major discussion on Hollywood’s issues with diversity. #OscarsSoWhite trended on Twitter, several famous people boycotted the ceremony, and just about every online article about the Oscars centered around the controversy. As a result, this year’s show had the stigma of being as white as an angel food cake covered mayonnaise. Needless to say, it left a bad taste in people’s mouths way before it aired. However, despite the controversy leading into it, the end result was a pretty solid show full of satisfying wins and even a few surprises.
The show started off with an opening montage featuring the films that were nominated for awards that night. This year’s host, Chris Rock, proceeded to take the stage, and he certainly didn’t hold back any punches. Chris Rock’s comedy mainly centers around race, so it was pretty much guaranteed that he would roast the Academy for its lack of diversity. He didn’t roast the academy though; he burnt them like Anakin Skywalker at the end of Episode 3.
Rock started off his speech by saying:
“I counted at least 15 black people in that montage.”
Rock then jokingly referred to the ceremony as the “white people’s choice awards,” and said if the Academy nominated hosts, he wouldn’t get the hosting job.
Rock admitted that he was actually excited to host a show embroiled in so much controversy. He admitted that he actually considered quitting but eventually decided not to. According to him, they were going to have the Oscars anyway and the last thing he needed was to lose another job to Kevin Hart.
Hr pondered why the controversy was just coming into fruition even though about 71 of the past 88 ceremonies had no black acting nominees. Rock proclaimed that black people had “real things to protest” in the 60s and 50s. He said:
We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematography. When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.
One can argue that he went too far with this joke, but the basic point of this joke was to suggest that we’ve come a long way with race relations but still have room for improvement.
He then got a more shocked response from the crowd when he said:
“This year, things are going to be a little different. This year, in the In Memoriam package, it’s just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies … yes I said it!”
Addressing the question of whether or not Hollywood was racist, Rock said that it was more “sorority racist” than “burning cross racist.” He concluded by agreeing that every talented person should have their moment no matter what skin color they are. Rock said:
“It’s not about boycotting anything, it’s just we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities.”
The controversy was a recurring theme throughout the night. Kevin Hart and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs both made speeches on how we can make Hollywood more inclusive for everybody that deserves to have a shot.
After Rock’s opening monologue, the screenplay awards were the first to be announced. Spotlight won for Best Original Screenplay and The Big Short won for Best Adapted Screenplay. As Adam McKay accepted the latter screenplay award, he seemed to take a subtle jab at Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. McKay said:
“Most of all, if you don’t want big money to control government, don’t vote for candidates that take money from big banks, oil or weirdo billionaires: Stop!”
Clinton reportedly took millions of dollars from big banks, and Trump certainly fits the description of a weirdo billionaire. It’s pretty clear who McKay was going after with this remark.
After the screenplay awards were a series of sketches involving several black comedians parodying some of the nominated films. These sketches continued the ongoing theme of addressing the show’s racial controversy. Whoopi Goldberg interrupted an infomercial in Joy, Leslie Jones played the role of the bear mauling Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, Tracy Morgan was The Danish Girl, and Chris Rock tried to convince Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels not to leave him on Mars in The Martian.
This was followed by a bizzare moment where Stacey Dash took to the stage and perkily wished everybody a happy Black History Month. Just as a reminder, this is the actress that suggested ending BET and Black History Month to help solve society’s racial issues. Even the audience was confused, as the way Rock introduced Dash seemed like a joke. Some audience members laughed but most just stayed silent. Certainly a strange moment that night. Maybe she’s doing a mockumentary or something.
Best Supporting Actress was next award to be presented. Many considered Kate Winslet’s performance in Steve Jobs to be the frontrunner. However, in a surprising turn of events, Swedish actress Alicia Vikander won the award for her performance in The Danish Girl. Despite a banner at the bottom of the screen listing the people the nominees thanked, Vikander and other winners that night still verbally thanked people in their speeches. One notable moment was the somewhat creepy smile that director Tom Hooper gave Vikander when she thanked him.
The next few awards were in the behind-the-scenes categories, and were pretty much dominated by Mad Max: Fury Road. The fourquel won Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Out of all the films nominated, Fury Road ended up receiving the most awards.
Although Fury Road swept the technical awards, it still had a couple of losses. The Revenant won the award for Best Cinematography, proving that there is still a place for natural lighting in a high-tech film world.
In another unexpected victory, Ex Machina won the award for Best Visual Effects. The film, which only cost $15 million to make, beat the likes of big-budget giants like The Martian and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Just goes to show that money isn’t everything when it comes to well executed effects.
Speaking of Star Wars, the show also featured a surprise appearance from C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8. Yes, the real robots in the flesh (or lack thereof) made an appearance on stage with no green screen or obviously-superimposed CG. Room’s Jacob Tremblay pretty much summed up how we all felt with his reaction.
The “bear” from The Revenant also made an appearance.
Yet another unexpected moment occured when Chris Rock started selling his daughters’ Girl Scout Cookies to the audience. This closely resembled the moment where Ellen DeGeneres gave the crowd pizza back in 2014. However, Rock’s intention was to raise money for the Girl Scouts. He and his daughters ended up raising over $65,000. That’s a whole lot of Thin Mints and Tagalongs.
Best Animated Short went to Bear Story, and to no surprise whatsoever, Best Animated Film went to Inside Out. During his acceptance speech, director Pete Docter gave a special tribute to the hard work it takes to make an animated film. Doctor said:
“…On this film, every single storyboard, every single frame, cut, line of dialogue, every single pixel, was done by the amazing artists we work with at Pixar, led by John Lasseter. They should be up here with us tonight. We love them. Along with our amazing cast—best cast ever assembled, animated or otherwise—we love you.”
After Inside Out’s win was perhaps the most shocking loss of the night. Going into the Academy Awards, many assumed that Sylvester Stallone was a shoe-in to win Best Supporting Actor for Creed. Surprisingly, Stallone lost to Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies. Rylance’s victory must have hurt Mark Ruffalo too; hearing “and the Oscar goes to…Mark R…” must have initially gotten his hopes up before being shot down.
A more unfortunate surprise came when the In Memoriam segment was played. Late stars like Alan Rickman and David Bowie were honored, but there was no sign of Godfather and Good Burger actor Abe Vigoda. You could argue that he died after the video package was made, but Monsters Inc. co-writer Dan Gerson died 11 days after Abe Vigoda and was still included. It’ll be interesting to see what excuse the Academy has for this.
In the directing category, Alejandro González Iñárritu (In-ya-ree-too) won Best Director for the second year in a row. When it comes to filming The Revenant, it seems like his self-proclaimed “irresponsible decisions” paid off in the end.
Best Actress ended up going to none other than frontrunner Brie Larson for her performance in Room. Considering that she practically isolated herself for a month to prepare for the role, it’s pretty safe to say she deserved it.
Next up was perhaps the biggest moment of the night. Would Leonardo DiCaprio finally get his Oscar for The Revenant, or would Eddie Redmayne swipe the award from him in an ultimate upset? DiCaprio sat nervously as the envelope was opened, and soon enough…the losing streak was over. An old meme had died and a new meme was born.
DiCaprio was given thunderous cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd as he made his way towards the stage to accept his award. He was clearly satisfied with his win, as it was indeed a long time coming. Now he can finally dust off the spot on his mantle he probably labled “Oscar” a couple of decades ago.
At last, the time came to announce Best Picture. After The Revenant swept the Golden Globes and picked up the directing Oscar, it seemed like a surefire win. In his legendary voice, Morgan Freeman announced the winner as…Spotlight. Yes, Spotlight’s win was indeed surprising considering how well The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road did that night. It only won one other Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and its loss at the Golden Globes hurt its momentum going in. It just proves that anything can happen on Oscar night.
That’s pretty much it for this year’s Oscars, and it was quite a show. Can’t wait until next year when Micahel Keaton hopefully picks up a win for The Founder. One can hope, right?
Full Winners List:
Best Picture: Spotlight
Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCapro, The Revenant
Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Best Animated Picture: Inside Out
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short
Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight
Best Cinematography: The Revenant
Best Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Film Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Visual Effects: Ex Machina
Best Costume Design: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Sound Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Sound Mixing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Score: The Hateful Eight
Best Song: Sam Smith, Writings on the Wall
Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul
Best Documentary: Amy
Best Animated Short: Bear Story
Best Documentary Short: A Girl in he River: The Price of Forgiveness
Best Live Action Short: Stutterer