Oscars hosts: Who needs ’em? Apparently no one.
After much ado about Kevin Hart, the Academy decided to roll with a host-free format, which lent Hollywood’s Biggest Night™ a rollicking, loosey-goosey feel. (Well, for the first half anyway.) Who knew that having a rotation of very funny people tag in and be hilarious for three minutes at a time could be a sufficient substitute for Jimmy Kimmel? Absent the question of whether the host was doing well or botching it, viewers were left to focus on the winners in a bunch of unpredictable categories.
In accordance with the bylaws of every award show ever, it was a mixed bag. On one hand, the Academy seemed to be atoning for its wretched past by bestowing a bananas amount of awards upon women–and especially women of color. On the other hand, Green Book. It seems the Academy can overhaul its voting pool and get some more diversity into the water supply, but it can’t overcome its addiction to White Savior movies made by jerks.
Feel free to sift through the mixed bag below, with the 13 best and four worst moments from last night’s Oscars, roughly in the order in which they happened.
1.) Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey kick things off
It was bittersweet to see these three wonderful women take the stage at the top of the show and realize they wouldn’t be hosting, but then they made a bunch of horny jokes and got in a solid dig at Trump and any residue of the “bitter-” part of “bittersweet” melted away.
2.) Regina King wins an Oscar
Not only was King’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar a deserving win for an extremely talented industry vet, but she also fought through tears to give a powerful, selfless speech about all the support she’s had along the way.
3.) Free Solo winner says the theme of the night out loud
Free Solo co-director Jimmy Chin may have summed up the honor of winning the award for Best Documentary Feature when he came out to the podium and said “Oh, shit,” but his fellow director (and wife) Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi one-upped him with this line thanking the production team behind their movie: “Thank you, National Geographic, for hiring women and people of color; it only makes the film better.”
4.) Bryan Tyree Henry and Melissa McCarthy get costumed
This pair taking the stage in, like, Tim-Burton-meets-The Favourite attire, and a whole zoo of stuffed animals, is a laugh-worthy sight gag on its own merits. When they deliver the intro to the Best Costume Design in solemn deadpan, however, it escalates the bit into one of the night’s best.
5.) Ruth Carter becomes the first black woman to win for Best Costume Design
“Wow, wow, I got it,” Ruth Carter says when she takes the stage, seeming both stunned and proud. It’s a historic win–she’s the first black woman to win for costumes–during which Carter thanks Spike Lee for giving her a shot early in her career–marking the first of many fun Spike Lee moments throughout the night.
6.) Hannah Beachler becomes the most relatable Oscar winner ever
Beachler undercut the image she struck in an intimidatingly fashion-forward off-the-shoulder gown by not being able to find her acceptance speech on her Notes app. Then she gave an utterly charming speech through tears, which concluded with a good piece of advice, “When things get rough, just tell yourself, ‘I did my best and my best is good enough.'” Also, as the New York Times’s Kyle Buchanan pointed out at this moment, “Only 3 black women have won Oscars for anything other than acting. 2 of them just happened tonight.” (Beachler is the first black woman to win for production design.)
7.) Javier Bardem has something to say about Trump’s wall
"There are no borders or walls that can restrain ingenuity and talent," Javier Bardem says in Spanish as he introduces the Best Foreign Language Film category. #Oscars https://t.co/zSrvQG8ZE6 pic.twitter.com/wfgyUNWqgp
— ABC News (@ABC) February 25, 2019
8.) Awkwafina and John Mulaney are nervous
These two are both pros who have come a long way very quickly. You can buy them being a little nervous about how they’re doing, even though it’s clearly just schtick.
9.) A movie about menstruation wins an Oscar
“I’m not crying because I’m on my period or anything,” says Rayka Zehtabchi, co-director of Best Short Documentary winner Period. End of Sentence, “I’m crying because a film about menstruation just won an Oscar.” Indeed it did!
10.) Trevor Noah is not from Wakanda
While presenting Black Panther to the crowd, Trevor Noah, who originally hails from South Africa, alludes to the misconception that Wakanda is a real place. “Growing up as a young boy in Wakanda, I would see T’Challa flying over our village,” Noah says, “and he would remind me of a great Xhosa phrase, ‘Abelungu abazi’ uba ndiyaxoka’–which means, ‘In times like these, we are stronger when we fight together than when we try to fight apart.” As OkayAfrica points out, however, what that phrase really means is ‘White people don’t know I’m lying.’ Well played, Noah.
11.) Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga bring down the house
— Channel 9 (@Channel9) February 25, 2019
You knew it was coming at some point in the night, but in the moment this A Star Is Born duet seemed to come from nowhere. The camera films Cooper and Lady Gaga from behind as they take the stage, recreating the intimate feel of a powerful scene from the movie. Bravo.
12.) The Samuel Jackson/Spike Lee love is real. Very real.
Jackson had been a struggling actor since the 1970s who never quite made it, until Spike Lee started putting him in his movies. (The first was 1988’s School Daze, Lee’s second film.) These two go way back and share a bond, which is evident from their banter while Jackson can’t hide his excitement that Lee is even nominated for one of the two screenwriting awards he’s presenting–let alone his pure jubilation when Lee wins his category.
— ellie (@eleanorbate) February 25, 2019
When Lee takes the stage, he jumps immediately into Jackson’s arms. Where he belongs!
Also, this happened:
— Matthew Belloni (@THRMattBelloni) February 25, 2019
13.) Spike Lee finally gets his goddamn non-honorary Oscar
“This industry is so far behind sports, it’s ridiculous,” Spike Lee said to the Academy in 2015, upon winning an honorary Oscar. “It’s easier to be president of the United States as a black person than be head of a studio. Honest.” At that point, he could not have possibly foreseen who the next president would be, or that his film that ends with a jaw-dropping rebuke of that president would finally earn him his first non-honorary Oscar. And he definitely would not have envisioned that president rebuking him for his acceptance speech via Twitter.
Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
It’s worth listening to everything Lee says in his acceptance speech, though, starting with these immortal, and bleeped out, opening words.
1.) Ryan Coogler is the invisible man
You’d think the camera might find the director of the year’s biggest movie, which won multiple awards throughout the night, more than one time late in the show.
2.) Enough with the “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Look, it was cute to see Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in the same room again, but at this point in the show if you weren’t sick of “Bohemian Rhapsody” (both the song and the movie), you were probably in Queen.
everyone: bohemian rhapsody was a mediocre movie directed by an extremely alleged criminal
the academy: can someone pull up a list of every piece of content that ever used a queen song. put them all on stage. bohemian rhapsody must be mentioned a minimum of every 30 seconds
— Casey Johnston (@caseyjohnston) February 25, 2019
3.) Rami Malek forgets to thank Freddie Mercury
Malek had some sharp things to say about immigrants during his speech (he’s in favor of them!) but would it have killed him to thank the guy whose teeth he won an Oscar for portraying?
4.) Fucking Green Book wins Best Picture
The movie about the nice white man who fixed racism, starring a man who used the n-word during the promotion cycle, directed by a man who wagged his dick at the cast and crew of a previous movie, and co-written by a man who endorsed Trump’s famous lie about Muslims celebrating 9/11. Yes, that movie won Best Picture. And then nobody thanked the true hero behind the subject of the movie! It’s enough to make you want to exit a theater rapidly. Or just turn your back, like Spike Lee did.