The Oscars this year have had a truly extraordinary amount of controversy. With the complete and utter lack of person of color nominees in the acting categories, and only one POC director, these Oscars were bound to be intense. Some boycotted the ceremony; many people still watched it. Fortunately, Chris Rock was the host this year. In this social media age, if I were to put it in 140 characters or less: This year’s show was SOOOOOO much better than last year’s.
Rock killed it in the monologue. Despite some questionable jokes and a few shaky moments, he pretty much nailed the one area that was the elephant in the room: the racism that became a front-and-center issue. The same could be said for his performance throughout the night. There were some clunkers (Stacey Dash? Those Asian kids in suits?), but there were also highlights (the reel inserting black actors into some of the Oscar movies, like Whoopi Goldberg into “Joy,” Tracy Morgan into “The Danish Girl,” etc.; the bit where Rock interviewed Compton moviegoers about the Oscar movies and “Straight Outta Compton,” and other subjects as well). Academy, if you can find it in yourselves, please make Chris Rock the host of the Oscars as often as you can.
There were fortunately some genuine highlights during the night as well. Mark Rylance’s Best Supporting Actor win for his work in Bridge of Spies will likely go down as one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history. C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8 all appeared onstage to honor John Williams, who with the new Star Wars movie has 50 Oscar nominations to his name. Lady Gaga gave the performance of the night when she performed “Til It Happens to You” from the documentary “The Hunting Ground.” At one point during her outstanding performance, a crowd of men and women who were sexual assault survivors appeared onstage with writings like “Not Your Fault” written on their arms. When taken in with Joe Biden’s exceptional introduction, it made for one of the most powerful statements of the night. “Mad Max: Fury Road” won a surprising number of awards that night, including Best Makeup and Hairstyling, beating out “The Revenant” and its work, which included the remarkable gashes that Leo sported in that movie.
As far as the awards themselves, some of them were surprises, others were predictable. Although Mark Rylance was an incredible shocker, “Inside Out” was unsurprisingly Best Animated Feature. Best Actress was Brie Larson’s to lose, and it was confirmed that night. For all the comedy that comes with Leonardo DiCaprio and the string of losses he’s had with the Oscars, “The Revenant” became a punchline in and of itself. Hopefully, his win will finally end one of the Internet’s most notorious memes. Alejandro González Iñárritu also won for his directing work for “The Revenant,” and (I saw this recently) he actually is the only director in history to win back-to-back Oscars; last year he won for “Birdman.” Best Picture time came around, and Morgan Freeman announced…“Spotlight” for the award, beating out “The Revenant” and the other contenders of the night.
All in all, it was a very good ceremony this year for the Oscars. One can only hope that the future awards ceremonies are not only that good but they continue bringing in hosts who aren’t afraid to be edgy. Personally, I would die happy knowing that SNL’s Kate McKinnon would be hosting the Oscars. Another high hope for the Oscars: they actually nominate people of color in the acting categories. Until then, see you at the movies!