Another year, another Oscars ceremony has been and gone. Green Book won Best Picture while Rami Malek and Olivia Colman’s portrayals of Freddie Mercury and Queen Anne earned them Best Actor and Actress accolades respectively. Let’s dissect some of biggest stories from Hollywood’s night of nights.
The safe option
What do you do when the Best Picture field is as varied as it was this year? If you’re the Academy, you choose Green Book, the safest option from eight very different films. Because let’s face it, the films that actually deserved to win (and had something powerful to say) were never going to get gold. Roma is black and white and not in English; Blackkklansman is too inflammatory and outspoken; The Favourite is too kooky and strange; A Star Is Born is a remake of a remake of a remake; and Black Panther is too mainstream.
Clearly, the only film that fits the bill – by having a palatable core message about tolerance and loving thy neighbour – is Green Book. It’s straightforward, pandering and comforting. It’s the film equivalent of a warm blanket and a mug of cocoa. It’s fine, but it’s a million miles from the best film of the year. But it could be worse; they could have given Best Picture to Bohemian Rhapsody.
We are the champions
Speaking of Bohemian Rhapsody, it was the most awarded film of the night and none of the winners thanked its director (Bryan Singer). Let that sink in.
Easily the worst Best Picture nominee in years, Bohemian Rhapsody scored four wins – Best Actor, Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. Moving past the fact that it deserved none of them, the Academy proved itself tone deaf and clueless enough to heap praise on a film directed by an alleged paedophile only 12 months since Time’s Up took centre stage. Sure, you could argue that one man’s actions shouldn’t overshadow the whole film, but with its messy editing, acting and overall storytelling, Bohemian Rhapsody is not worth the acclaim anyway.
Superhero films have won Academy Awards before, but none have won as many as Black Panther. Ryan Coogler‘s smash hit took home Original Score, Costume Design and Production Design, three richly deserved accolades that illustrate how the film brought the fictional nation of Wakanda, its people and its culture to life.
The colours, textures and overall design elements in Black Panther seamlessly melded traditional African patterns with cool futuristic elements, and Ludwig Göransson‘s score – complete with tribal drums and chanting and classic orchestral – was the icing on the cake.
Following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in August, it seemed inconceivable that A Star Is Born would walk away from the Oscars with only a single accolade to its name. But it appears as though this star burned too bright too soon, burning up long before the home stretch. The long and short of it is this; Bradley Cooper was robbed of Best Actor and completely snubbed in the Best Director category. The decision to shower Bohemian Rhapsody with awards while ignoring A Star Is Born will go down as one of the more baffling decisions from this year’s baffling ceremony, especially after that goosebump-inducing performance of ‘Shallow’.
Possibly the biggest surprise of the night was Olivia Colman swooping in and stealing Best Actress from under Glenn Close‘s nose. The popular English actress fought through the tears to deliver the best speech of the show, as she spluttered her way through a list of thank yous and had the audience in stitches. Even though Close was the hot favourite, I was stoked to see Colman collecting her statue, and her visible shock exemplifies what makes the Oscars so special.
Other feel-good moments included Lady Gaga collecting her award for Best Original Song, Spike Lee leaping into Samuel L Jackson‘s arms after he won Best Adapted Screenplay, and the makers of Period. End of Sentence, a documentary that tackles the stigma around menstruation in rural India, winning Best Documentary Short Subject.
That’s all folks (until next year)
Truth be told, I’m glad this awards season is over. It’s been an absolute dumpster fire from start to finish. Controversy tends to find the Oscars in some shape or form year after year, but even by their abysmal standards, this year’s awards season has been nothing but dismal for The Academy.
From the Best Popular Film furore (the Oscars category nobody asked for) to the Kevin Hart hosting saga (he stepped down following controversy over old homophobic tweets), it’s been non-stop negative press for months. The ongoing outrage surrounding Bryan Singer (he has joined the growing ranks of men in Hollywood accused of sexual misconduct) has cast a shadow over proceedings, while internal decisions to trim down the runtime and halt a slide in viewership – such as the ill-conceived idea to present certain technical categories during the commercials – only served to alienate people who cared about the Oscars the most. When you’ve got guys like Alfons Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro expressing their dismay online only two weeks beforehand, you know you’ve really put your foot in it.
A shambolic affair from start to finish, I’m glad to see the back of this awards season. Worst of all, the headlines have shifted attention away from some excellent films from some of the greatest filmmakers working today.
Images courtesy of Universal Pictures (Green Book), Twentieth Century Fox (Bohemian Rhapsody & The Favourite), Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (Black Panther), Roadshow Films (A Star Is Born).