At a little over three hours and thirty minutes, this year’s Oscars delivered a lackluster ceremony and a confounding Best Picture winner. This was not surprising. Award presenters from Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph to Helen Mirren and Jason Momoa tried to liven the ceremony with witty dialogue, but the lack of a host was glaringly apparent.
The Oscars made intersectional progress, with a variety of hosts from Michelle Yeoh to Amandla Stenberg. The ceremony brimmed with Black pride as Spike Lee won Best Adapted Screenplay for “BlackKklansman,” Regina King won for Supporting Actress and Hannah Beachler won for Production Design — the first Black woman to be nominated for the award. Rami Malek, a first generation Egyptian American, spoke of the importance of immigration in his acceptance speech for Best Actor. Lastly, “Roma” dominated the awards, with wins for Best Cinematography, Director and Foreign Language Film.
The Best Picture win for “Green Book” put a damper on the progress earlier in the ceremony. The film has been cited as having a White savior narrative and much controversy has followed it’s production.
Director Peter Farrelly was accused of flashing his penis on the set of his prior film “There’s Something About Mary.” Recent reports found that screenwriter Nick Vallengo tweeted in support of the falsehood that American Muslims celebrated 9/11. Finally, star of the film Viggo Mortensen said the “N” word while promoting “Green Book.” All apologized for their behavior. Lastly, relatives of Dr. Shirley called his depiction in the film a “symphony of lies.”
Following Julia Roberts’ Best Picture announcement, Spike Lee waved his arms in anger and attempted to leave the theatre, claiming the win was a “bad call.” Other attendees also evidenced their displeasure in person and online. Jordan Peele and others did not clap at the announcement and notables such as filmmaker Ava DuVernay and writer Roxane Gay tweeted their frustration online.
But the internet exploded the most over Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s intimate performance of Best Song winner “Shallow.” The chemistry between the two displayed in the film and press interactions was heightened on stage, with fans buzzing about a possible romance. But this didn’t please everyone, as Cooper’s longtime love Irina Shayk, who he has a child with, was in the audience. Twitter exploded in a divisive response to the performance, with singer Mel B stating notably that Lady Gaga broke the “women’s code.”
This year’s Oscars was a tidal wave of controversy, mixed with expected wins and a disappointing Best Picture win. Amongst it all, some intersectional progress was made. But not quite enough.