I’m not saying anything new when I point out that the Oscars this year weren’t exactly colorful, or when I assert that they somehow managed to be even less racially diverse than last year. What I will bring up, however, is how eerily deliberate it all feels. Not only does it seem like they’re trying to play a joke on those who complained about the lack of diversity in last year’s Oscar line-up but it seems so carefully put together too.
For instance, Creed was up for an Academy Award solely for its white co-star Sylvester Stallone, with no attention given to its black director or black main star Michael B. Jordan. Meanwhile, Straight Outta Compton, a movie with a mostly black cast and crew, in spite of how well-liked and critically acclaimed it was, received but one Oscar nomination for its screenplay; written by four white people. Also fishy is how Idris Elba‘s hailed performance in Beasts of No Nation gets ignored in favor of names that sound like they were pulled out of a hat like “Bryan Cranston in Trumbo“. Last but not least, Samuel L. Jackson should have won every Oscar in every category (including those of previous years) for The Hateful Eight. For reals.
It’s tragic indeed, which might make this year’s show even more impressive in how African-American host Chris Rock remained energetically entertaining throughout, without throwing his papers on the floor and giving up on both the Academy and life itself. I’ve never been a big Chris Rock fan but oh man, I did have a lot of fun watching him take care of this year’s ceremony. My highlights this time around were:
- Chris Rock And The Comedy In General: As soon as the show started and Rock killed it with his intro monologue, I knew we were in for a good night! Yes, some of the bits were lame (the “cookies” gag seemed derivative of Ellen’s pizza bit from two years ago) and his jokes about diversity, though often poignantly hilarious, got close to being a somewhat thin shtick. But honestly, I haven’t laughed this much during Oscar hosting segments in a long time. I think Chris should be as proud of himself as the white audience members were uncomfortable and amused at the same time. I’d definitely watch those “black versions” of the Oscar noms!
- Sacha Baron Cohen Presenting As Ali G.: Whether or not he was actually all that funny, it was definitely an interesting choice to have him present as a character he played 10 years ago. “Interesting.”
- Alicia Vikander Becomes First Swedish ‘Actress’ Winner Since Ingrid Bergman: Sorry Kate and Jennifer, but history had to be made tonight, even if I would rather Vikander had won for her part in Ex Machina. We Swedes totally should have bagged The 100 Year-Old Man‘s makeup Oscar too but this was plenty enough. And while we’re on the subject of history:
- Ennio Morricone Becomes World’s Oldest Oscar Winner: Best Original Score was the only category in which Hateful Eight had my full faith. Morricone is now the oldest Oscar winner in the world and there was also something adorable about the fact that he had to read his speech in his native tongue alongside a translator. If only Tremblay had won for Room. We would have had both ends of the spectrum covered.
DiCaprio Finally Wins: I don’t know what I was the happiest about; the fact that Leo DiCaprio is finally at peace, that face Kate Winslet made, or the fact that we can finally let this rancid meme die. Don’t worry, though. You guys can make those exact same jokes about [insert literally any other actor’s name here]. It is at least equally funny, believe me.
- Andy Serkis Presenting The VFX Oscar: This doesn’t sound like that big a deal until you realize that this category is usually presented by actors who don’t understand or care about visual effects. Andy Serkis, whose entire career is based around it, most definitely does! Good choice, Academy. Oh and Ex Machina won so yaay!
- I Took A Piss Outside When The Weeknd Performed And A Moose Came Out Of The Woods: Enough said. Next highlight.
- R2-D2, BB-8 and C-3PO Live On Stage: Seriously, just say that sentence out loud. And look at Jacob Tremblay’s face light up as it happens. It almost makes up for the fact they had the fucking Minions present the award for Best Animated Short Film later. I didn’t mind seeing Woody and Buzz afterwards (even if it gave away that the amazing Anomalisa was gonna lose to the decent Inside Out) but come on, guys. Even racists like you are better than this! Just… no more Minions.
- Those Shots Of People Refusing To Applaud Winners: I’m thinking especially of Alejandro G. Iñárritu crossing his arms when Mad Max got an award for the umptieth consecutive time. Three statues last year wasn’t enough, huh Al?
- Lot Of Great Faces Shown During The In-Memoriam: We lost a lot of legends and childhood heroes this past year (Rickman, Lee, Nimoy, Bowie…) and they were paid tribute to accordingly. That’s all I will say on that, lest I tear up. I can post a link to the full montage later.
- Saoirse Ronan’s Clothes: What? You can’t tell me what to write.
So in summation: the ceremony surely had its great moments and I might add more to this list later. And yes, I did play the Oscars Drinking Game while streaming the show and Skyping with a fellow movie fan. I became obnoxious fast, I’m guessing.
Maybe I’m biased because I watched the broadcast with a great friend and had lotsa laughs and drinks but fuck it, I’m giving this one a thumbs up. Happy black history month!