Best: Cynthia Erivo blew the roof off
She may still be a long way off from pulling off that EGOT, but, with all due respect to Janelle Monáe and Elton John, Cynthia Erivo showed who the top singer was on the Oscar stage. Barely moving, the Best Actress nominee soared with an absolutely gorgeous rendition of “Stand Up.” There was a reason she was the only performer of the five nominated songs to get a standing ovation. And the 3:05 mark? That is a VOICE. – GE
Best: James Corden and Rebel Wilson doing a “Cats” skit
The cast members of the widely-derided “Cats” presenting Best Visual effects, was an inspired move. And by all rights, it should’ve been terrible, but James Corden and Rebel Wilson self-deprecatingly mocking themselves, “Cats” and their participation in the movie was surprisingly funny stuff.
Worst: Bad telecast camerawork and cutting
Considering this was Glenn Weiss’s fifth time directing the Oscars telecast and he won an Emmy for a previous outing the number of camera mistakes during the production was eye-brow raising. At one time the control room cut to a camera pointing to the floor. Another time a boom camera’s shadow was over Idina Menzel as she was beginning her musical number. It took a good five seconds before it moved off her face. Other times the show cut to bad reactions to something happening in the audience like it was the Golden Globes or MTV Movie Awards (not the Academy’s style). Other times Weiss cut to extreme long shots at major moments because it was clear he didn’t have the right set-ups ready to convey what was happening (this occurred during “Parasite’s” surprise Best Picture win). Overall, it was strange considering Weiss and his team’s resumes. – GE
Best: Hildur Guðnadottir accepts the Oscar for Best Music (Original Score) for “Joker” and gives a lovely, aspirational speech.
Obviously, there were no female directors nominated this year, this was a big point of contention after the nominations were announced, and not a lot of women won major filmmaking awards outside of traditionally female-centric categories like Costume and Make-up. Arguably the biggest female filmmaking win of the night, excluding the Actress awards, and aside from Best Documentary Feature (“American Factory“) which was co-directed by one woman, was Hildur Guðnadottir’s Best Score win for “Joker.” Guðnadottir was the first woman to win this award since 1997’s “The Full Monty,” and that’s back in the day when the split the category for Best Original Score in Drama or Musical or Comedy. If the “all women were superheroes” condescension left a bad taste in your mouth (see below), then Guðnadottir authentic speech, which graciously thanked all her fellow nominees and collaborators, was actually heartfelt and meaningful. “To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters, who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices.” Genuinely touching and inspirational stuff.
Worst: “All women are superheroes!”
No, they’re not. Look, it’s bad enough there was no Greta Gerwig in director, no Lulu Wang‘s “The Farewell” anywhere, and films like Mati Diop‘s “Atlantics” and Celine Sciamma‘s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” might as well have not existed for all the Academy noticed. It was bad enough that the only place made on the night for these women plus Alma Har’el, Melina Matsoukas, and Marielle Heller was on the edge of Natalie Portman‘s cape (itself a pretty small gesture, but however inelegant the point, the execution was elegance personified), or in Heller’s case, during Monae’s terrific, “A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood“-referencing opener. It’s bad enough that Gerwig lost Best Adapted Screenplay to Taika Waititi because whatever else “Little Women” may or may not be, it is absolutely the best work of revitalizing, spry, fresh adaptation — of a text everyone knows like the back of their hand — of the year.
But all these things we were pretty much prepared for since the nominations had been announced. What we didn’t bank on, however, was having three fine actresses — Brie Larson, Sigourney Weaver, and Gal Gadot — fall into the worst trap of the “strong female lead” trope with an awkward bit about a fight club, then do a lil’ comedy eye-roll thing about journalists asking them about being women in Hollywood, and then to insult us all with the assertion that “All women are superheroes!” which is the biggest load of tokenistic, condescending, patriarchy-pandering baloney to trot out on this of all nights. Surely we are further on than this, people. – JK
Best: Director Bong taking time from his Best Director speech to praise his fellow nominees and Martin F*cking Scorsese.
If it wasn’t clear enough before, it became clear tonight that Director Bong is a class act that deeply respects the art and deeply respects his fellow filmmakers. While accepting the award for Best Director, the Korean filmmaker said a quote that motivated him when he was younger, a quote by fellow nominee Martin Scorsese. “When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is, ‘the most personal is the most creative.’ That quote was from our great Martin Scorsese.”
Bong then led the entire crowd into a round of applause that became a standing ovation for the legendary filmmaker, before turning his praise to Quentin Tarantino for supporting him in his early years. Bing even praised Todd Phillips and Sam Mendes, joking that if he could he would chainsaw the statue and share it with the four of them. Also, this tweet, lol. – RM
Best: Joaquin Phoenix gave a passionate and super weird speech about artificial insemination in cattle, and also his late brother
Joaquin Phoenix gave without a doubt the weirdest speech of the night. What started as a praise for the power of storytelling to make impacts, and the social work of the people in the room evolved into a plea for helping the environment by talking about the treatment of cows for our daily consumption. It certainly seems like it was the first time someone talked about artificial insemination in cows. Phoenix somehow brought the whole thing back home with an emotional shout out to his late brother, River Phoenix, quoting one of his lyrics “run to the rescue with love and peace will follow” — and the audience cam settling on Keanu Reeves for a beat while that was all going on was sort of great. – RM
Best: The Oscars finally give Best Picture to the best film of the year, “Parasite” makes history and everything is alright for a minute
After the film had already amassed Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature, and Best Director, the moment of truth came as Jane Fonda announced the winner of Best Picture. Even after the previous wins, there were plenty of doubts that “Parasite” would win, but when it did it made history as the first non-English language film to win the prestigious award, the first Korean film to win an Oscar (which it did, multiple times!) and also the first film to win both Best International Feature and Best Picture. Not even the lights going down and rudely trying to cut off producer Miky Lee’s speech could stop the #BongHive train, as a very enthusiastic Tom Hanks led the crowd in encouraging Lee to finish her speech. – RM
That’s a wrap. Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments for your best or worst moment from the show.