HOLLYWOOD—It’s here, the night movie lovers have been waiting for all year: the Academy Awards, or what many of us call: the Oscars. The 88th ceremony was held from the famed Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. “The Revenant” led all contenders with 12 nominations including Best Picture, but it was “Spotlight” that took home the prize for Best Picture. Important to note that “Mad Max: Fury Road’ was the nights big winner with six awards, with “The Revenant” taking home a total of 3 awards, and “Spotlight” taking home 2 awards.
With so much controversy surrounding the Academy of Motion Arts Pictures and Sciences for its lack of diversity in the acting races for the past 2 years, the hashtag ‘OscarsSoWhite’ has become a trend on social media. We all knew that host Chris Rock was poised to tackle the issue head-on at the ceremony. I was quite nervous with the lead up to the ceremony, wondering just precisely what Rock would say and how the audience in the theater and at home would respond to his opening monologue.
The show kicked off with a montage of some of the biggest films of 2015 before Mr. Rock took to the stage and pointed fun at the montage which showcased a number of actors and actresses of color. He pointed jabs at hosting duties, and the idea of boycotting the ceremony, and he acknowledged that talk of him quitting and losing jobs to fellow comedian Kevin Hart. The history of the Academy had diversity issues long ago and ‘real’ issues that needed to be promoted. He talked about Jada Pinkett Smith and used Rihanna as a butt of the joke, which roused a huge applause from the crowd.
He took a hard turn tackling the issue of African-Americans being shot “while heading to the movies.” I had to cringe there, but it seemed like the opening started to drag a bit because he continued to discuss the diversity issue and even said straight on that Hollywood is racist. It took a bit of movement, but I do believe Rock moved the ceremony in the right direction as the award for Best Original Screenplay went to Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer for “Spotlight.”
Must say Ryan Gosling is proving to have perfect comedic timing as he presented the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay alongside Russell Crowe to Charles Randolph and Adam McKay “The Big Short.” Seeing that bit from Rock who poked fun at diversity in movies by utilizing Whoopi Goldberg in the movie “Joy,” and then Leslie Jones from “SNL” ferociously attacking Leo in “The Revenant” was hilarious. Nothing was funnier than seeing Tracy Morgan in “The Danish Girl” that took the cake. Seeing Rock bring out Stacey Dash to help promote diversity was a major bust; sorry that joke did not work at all and was so awkward.
The first big acting award of the night Best Supporting Actress was delivered by last year’s winner J.K. Simmons to Alicia Vikander “The Danish Girl.” Vikander was quite emotional while on stage. The Academy Award for Best Costume Design went to Jenny Beavan “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Best Production Design and Best Make-Up and Hairstyling were both wins for “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Gotta say the pacing for this year’s ceremony is moving way faster than in previous years.
The Oscar for Best Cinematography went to Emmanuel Lubezki “The Revenant.” Lubezki won his third consecutive award after taking home the prize for “Gravity” and “Birdman.” In the competitive race for Best Editing it was “Mad Max: Fury Road” for the win. In the race for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing it was Mad Max: Fury Road” that continued its reign of terror! Ok, we’re only about 90 minutes into the ceremony and “Mad Max: Fury Road” has already taken 6 awards out of the 10 categories the film has been nominated for.
“Ex-Machina” won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, taking a win away from “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which many expected to take that prize. It was an amazing moment to see Rock have the Girl Scouts of America come out and get into the pockets of Hollywood bigwigs to sell cookies; jabs at Tina Fey, Michael B. Jordan, Leonardo DiCaprio and Louis Gossett Jr. was a moment worth highlighting.
The Oscar for Best Animated Short went to “Bear Story.” Best Animated Feature went to a deserving “Inside Out.” The Weeknd took to the stage to sing his inescapable hit “Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey.” I will admit I laughed out loud several times while seeing Rock do that skit about how moviegoers in Compton felt about the diversity issue in the cinematic universe.
Patricia Arquette took to the stage to present the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to Mark Rylance “Bridge of Spies.” I knew it! I predicted a major upset in this category and the Academy delivered per usual. So many who expected Sylvester Stallone to win for “Creed,” should have an edge of caution! Rylance delivered a compassionate and gracious speech giving kudos to his director Steven Spielberg and co-star Tom Hanks. Must say people, I love a surprise and the Academy just shook up the ceremony and really grabbed my attention.
Louis C.K. presented the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject to “The Girl in the River” and pointed out the winner produced content that has social importance and a Honda Civic. He delivered a few laughs that were equally as hilarious as Rock himself. The award for Best Documentary Feature went to “Amy.”
“Stutterer” took home the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. Best Foreign Language Film was awarded to “Son of Saul.” It was a moment worth waiting for to see the crowd offer a standing ovation to Vice President Joe Biden who took to the stage to introduce Lady Gaga who took to the stage to perform the song “Til It Happens to You.” Gaga has gone two-for-two with amazing performances at the Academy Awards. On the music side of things, the Oscar for Best Original Score went to Ennio Morricone “The Hateful Eight” who picked up his first Oscar after being nominated six times.
In the competitive race for Best Original Song it was another upset, as “The Writings on the Wall” took home the award over favorite “Til It Happens to You” which many expected a win for Diane Warren and Lady Gaga. I think we should have a new hashtag, “OscarsFullOfSurprises!”
Now this is a race that I’ve been dying to see who would win the big prize: Best Director. Five nominees, but it was a two-way race between Alejandro Inarritu and George Miller. In the end it was Alejandro G. Inarritu who won his second consecutive Oscar for “The Revenant.” This is a guy who is delivering sensational work behind the camera. He is only the 3rd director in history to capture back-to-back Best Director wins. He gave an inspirational speech about diversity and the importance of not living in a world where we pinpoint everything on the color of one’s skin.
The big awards of the night Best Actor and Best Actress were a sign that the ceremony which is clocking in a little over 3 hours is near the end. As predicted, Brie Larson captured the Oscar for Best Actress for her riveting and I mean riveting work in “Room.” After years and countless nominations Leonardo DiCaprio finally took home gold winning his first Oscar for Best Actor for his work in “The Revenant.”
DiCaprio received a standing ovation from the crowd as he took to the stage. It was apparent the actor was quite pleased with the win; the gleeful smile on his face was an indicator. He delivered hands down one of the best speeches of the night, tackling the importance issue of global climate change.
The finale award of the night Best Picture was presented by Morgan Freeman to “Spotlight.” Definitely a surprise, that I would argue not many people expected to see take place. Yep, it was indeed an underdog, but the movie proved to roar in a way that “The Big Short” and “The Revenant” was unable to do. Awards season is over people, after 3 hours and 43 minutes, the ceremony came to a close. Start making those predictions as to who will be contenders at the 2017 ceremony!