The 91st Academy Awards had a significant amount of backlash long before the show actually premiered on Sunday, Feb. 24. The controversies started when prospective 2019 host, Kevin Hart’s, past homophobic tweets resurfaced, and continued more recently with the Academy’s decision to hand out certain awards like Best Cinematography and Best Editing during the commercial breaks. Since those controversies, the Academy has since decided to cut the idea of a host completely and gave airtime back to the cut awards. Needless to say, it seems, lately, the Oscars just can’t go a year without sparking some sort of major controversy.
The actual program itself was just as entertaining as it was any other year. The lack of a host was not missed in the slightest because the presenters of the show brought more than enough energy to the show. Presenters like Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry, John Mulaney and Awkwafina, and Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph added some much needed humor between the seriousness of the awards.
Musical performances of this year’s Oscars included songs from “Mary Poppins Returns,” “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “RBG.” The most anticipated performance was Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s performance of Shallow from “A Star is Born.” It was filmed much more cinematically than the other performances with beautiful closeups of the two actors singing together around a piano. However, Lady Gaga’s singing prowess far surpassed Bradley Cooper as he attempted, and failed, to hit several of the key notes which made the performance lose a lot of its charm.
“Roma” took a good portion of the big wins, like Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Foreign language film. “Bohemian Rhapsody” also did remarkably well with Rami Malek winning Best Actor, and the film taking other awards like Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. “Black Panther” took multiple awards home as well for Production Design, Costume Design and Best Score. “BlacKKKlansman” was awarded a singular award in Best Adapted Screenplay despite its seven nominations, although it was Spike Lee’s first nomination and win.
As for speeches, some of the best were from Olivia Colman, Best Actress winner with her comedic thank you, Spike Lee, Best Adapted Screenplay winner, with his inspiring political speech and Alfonso Cuaron, winner of three different awards, with heartwarming stories of his childhood in Mexico.
Interestingly, there weren’t many records broken this year. Hannah Beachler was the first African American to win Best Production Design and Peter Ramsay was the first African American to win Best Animated Feature. Also, both the winners for best actor, Rami Malek, and best actress, Olivia Colman were first-time nominees. Although the awards for Best Director and Best Picture are often joined at the hip, this year they diverged from that trend. Best Director went to Alfonso Cuaron for “Roma” and Best Picture went to “Green Book.”
The Best Picture winner was possibly the most surprising of the night, and it caused a lot of backlash. Although the Oscars seemed to have done well by choosing the true story of Dr. Shirley, a black man fighting racial stereotypes, the depiction of Dr. Shirley in “Green Book” in comparison to real person is far removed from the truth. The film shows him as as a secondary character and was more focused on the heroics of the white man in the film. Shirley’s living family members even disapproved of the depiction of their loved one. For those reasons, many people, including Spike Lee, agreed “Green Book”’s win was a bad move for the Academy to make.
Overall, the 91st Academy Awards were only average, and if they don’t make major changes soon to avoid controversy, it’ll probably stay that way in the future.