HOLLYWOOD HILLS─I hate to say this, but I am happy that awards season has come to an end America. Why? This has been perhaps the most predictable awards season that I can recall in years. It’s never fun when you know precisely who will win without any potential competitions. However, the granddaddy of all awards shows, the Academy Awards, or as we know it: the Oscar. Oscar is celebrating 92 years America!
“Joker” led all contenders coming into the night with a total of 11 nominations including Best Picture, but eyes were on “Parasite” and “1917” which were the heavy favorites in the Best Director and Best Picture races. When the dust settled it was “Parasite” who dominated the ceremony over “1917.”
Things were off to a great start because for the second consecutive year, there was no host, which tends to expedite the pacing of the ceremony. The awards were handed out via the famed Dolby Theatre and there were some surprises, but not as many as some cinema lovers hoped for. The ceremony kicked off with a surprise guest, Janelle Monae taking the stage to sing the inescapable them song from “Mr. Rogers.” That later transitioned to a musical number; I still don’t understand till this day why everyone thinks the Oscars has to kick off with a song and dance number. She was joined on stage by Tony and Emmy Award winner Billy Porter.
Now this is a comedy duo I never expected to see on the stage: Chris Rock and Steve Martin. Oh, I’m nervous I can only imagine what banter these two are about to get into. The jokes are landing, and now that I think about it, Steve Martin and Chris Rock should have taken on hosting duties. The jabs at Amazon titan Jeff Bezos were hilarious. The duo was not afraid to tackle the lack of females being nominated for Best Director. They tackle the diversity issue, but it was somewhat uncomfortable to watch if I’m being honest. So I’m glad it moved to the first Oscar of the night Best Supporting Actor presented by last year’s winner Regina King.
We were not surprised when King opened the envelope to reveal Brad Pitt as the winner for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Pitt was quite gracious accepting his award, getting slightly political, but very genuine. Short, sweet, and straight to the point. That is how you deliver a speech people. Animated Feature Film was a victory for “Toy Story 4.” The Academy Award for Best Animated Short went to “Hair Love.” The first Oscar-nominated song of the night, “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen II” was sang by Idina Menzel, and a host of other singers from across the world giving their interpretation of Elsa on a global scale.
In the race for Best Original Screenplay it was a tough race because I’ll be honest all of those movies were incredible, but it was Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won who won for “Parasite.” And it was well deserved, that movie delivered in ways that you least expect. On the flipside, the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay was a victory for Taiki Waititi for “Jojo Rabbit.”
The Oscar for Best Live-Action Short went to “The Neighbors’ Window.” Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig proved why they are great at comedy as their banter on stage as they addressed the issue that women are great at other things besides acting, hint, hint (they can direct, produce, write and so much more). The Academy Award for Production Design went to Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Gosh, why are these ladies still not on “Saturday Night Live?” They are incredible!
When it came to Costume Design it was Jacqueline Durran for “Little Women.” Who knew Chrissy Metz from “This is Us” had such a powerful voice, as she took the stage to sing “Standing With You” which is nominated for Best Original Song. “American Factory” won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, while the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject went to “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl).”
Getting back to another acting award, last year’s winner for Best Supporting Actor Mahershala Ali presented the prize for Best Supporting Actress to Laura Dern for “Marriage Story.” That was indeed a surprise moment to see rapper Eminem to take the stage to perform his Oscar-winning son “Lose Yourself,” receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.
The Oscar for Sound Editing went to “Ford v Ferrari,” while the Sound Mixing prize went to “1917.” We received another funny bit courtesy of Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus who presented the prize for Best Cinematography to Roger Deakins for “1917.” The race for Film Editing was indeed a tough one in my opinion, but it was “Ford v Ferrari” taking home the Oscar. Cynthia Erivo took to the stage to sing her original song “Stand Up” which is up for an Oscar people! It was a slow stirring crescendo that once it reached that climax it was damn powerful; that was an extremely powerful performance that delivered the applause it received.
James Corden and Rebel Wilson poked fun at the movie that was the biggest bomb of 2019, “Cats.” At least they can laugh at themselves, as they presented the Oscar for Best Visual Effects to “1917.” For Best Makeup and Hairstyling it was “Bombshell” won waltz away with the Academy Award. It was no surprise to me when the envelope for Best International Film was opened that it was “Parasite” taking on the prize. Elton John later hit the stage to perform his Oscar-nominated song from “Rocketman,” ‘I’m Gonna Love Me Again.’ I will admit the 2020 ceremony was getting a bit boring. I’m not sure if it’s the predictability element this awards season, but the pacing of the show seemed to drag in my honest opinion. For Best Original Score it was all about female empowerment, as Sigourney Weaver, Brie Larson and Gal Gadot presented the Oscar to Hildur Gudnatottir for “Joker.”
The Oscar for Best Original Song went to Elton John and Bernie Taupin for “I’m Gonna Love Me Again.” No big surprise there, as it was expected people. So now that we’ve gotten thru a vast majority of the awards, we just have the big four remaining: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Actor.
Ok, this was a race that I was very eager to see how it would unfold. We know this is a two-person race between Sam Mendes and Bong Joon Ho. The question we all wanted to know is who would take the prize? When director Spike Lee opened the envelope it was Bong Joon Ho who walked away with the Directing award for his film “Parasite.” This guy is cleaning house. He has already walked away with 3 Oscars and could still win another for Best Picture.
Oscar-winner Steven Spielberg took to the stage to pay tribute to those in the industry who were lost in the past year. Three categories left to complete and as expected the ceremony has gone over the three-hour mark. As expected, Joaquin Phoenix won the Oscar for Best Actor for his riveting performance for “Joker.” That Olivia Colman is hilarious, the woman just knows how to poke fun at herself. Phoenix took his moment to give a resounding speech to tackle issues prevalent in society. The speech did ramble a bit, but the one thing that I have to voice is that the guy was genuine in his direct conversation with the crowd and viewers at home. He nearly teared up as he paid tribute to his brother River Phoenix.
Rami Malek presented the Academy Award for Best Actress to Renee Zellweger for her work in “Judy.” Zellweger paid accolades to the other women nominated alongside her. The final award of the night for Best Picture was presented by Oscar-winner Jane Fonda. This was the only other category of the night where I was on the edge of my seat. Whose name would be on the envelope? “Parasite,” “1917” or perhaps a dark horse no one ever expected?
It is still hard to fathom that this woman is over 80 and looks incredible people! The suspense is over because when Fonda opened that envelope the name inside was “Parasite.” History was made as “Parasite” was the first movie in the Academy’s history not in the English language to win Best Picture. It was well-deserved and slightly tense because I thought Fonda was about to say “1917,” but there you go. “Parasite” was the night’s big winner, but Boon Jong Ho was the biggest winner taking home 4, yes 4 Oscars people! So awards season is over, the question now begins who will be the front-runner for 2020!