The 91st Academy Awards are in the books. The ceremony changes, awards, and song performances made for an improved telecast. Some awards were shocking, others less surprising. I was thrilled for Olivia Colman, Black Panther, and Alfonso Cuaron, but less so for Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody. Here are my ten reactions to the 2019 Oscars:
The Oscars Wasted Queen
Much like the entirety of Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen underwhelmed. The four-minute, two-song medley of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” gave a mere taste of two power ballads. It is disappointing that one of the world’s greatest rock bands + Adam Lambert was relegated to quick hits. Mixing in songs like “Somebody To Love” or “Killer Queen” would have gone a long way towards making the performance less of a throwaway.
The Changes Were An Improvement
Prior to the ceremony, the Academy Awards and ABC made a well-documented effort to give the ceremony a ratings boost. Several of these changes, like withholding categories from the telecast, were dropped from the plan. The ceremony did have a noticeably crisper pace. The most significant change was swapping presenters and Best Original Song nominees to replace the onslaught of host bits. Both changes improved the telecast and should be keepers for future years.
American Idol’s Big Night
The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg dropped this fun fact during the Oscars: two of the songs were performed by Adam Lambert and Jennifer Hudson. Both are non-winners of American Idol.
The Oscar Presenters Were Great
Despite surprising choices like Tom Morrello, the rotating group of presenters went well. Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Maya Rudolph produced an enjoyable monologue. Melissa McCarthy and Brian Tyree Henry were hilarious. James McAvoy, Awkafina, John Mulaney, Keegan-Michael Key, and Samuel L. Jackson all were a refreshing change from the traditional host.
Four Oscars, No Bryan Singer
In what may be an Oscars first, Bohemian Rhapsody won four Academy Awards (Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Lead Actor) and no one thanked Bryan Singer. Given the long history of grotesque allegations against the director, it is not shocking that he was persona non-grata. It may be an Oscar first that a director has been so ostracized during a ceremony.
Drop The Gun, Take The Oscar Statue
It is insane that Bohemian Rhapsody has won more Oscars than The Godfather. One is an objectively terrible music biopic. The other is widely considered the greatest movie of all-time.
Mahershala Ali’s One Night EGOT Push
Sunday night was a big night for Mahershala Ali fans. Not only did he become the second African-American actor to win two Oscars (shared with Denzel Washington), but Green Book won Best Picture as the finale for the third season of True Detective aired on HBO.
The Oscar Record Amy Adams Doesn’t Want
Amy Adams now has seven career nominations in a 13-year period. That is the second-most of any living actor without a win behind Glenn Close (eight).
The Academy Awards blew the Lead Actor category. Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale delivered career performances. Not only did Cooper turn in a dynamic role as the alcoholic singer Jackson Maine, but Bale was sensational as the stoic Dick Cheney. Neither are easy feats, but both lost to Rami Malek. Malek was fine as Freddie Mercury, but either of his two counterparts deserved the nod instead.
A Curious Choice For Best Picture
I am surprised that Green Book won Best Picture. It was a solid film, but did not define the year of cinema like a Best Picture winner should. BlackKklansman, Vice, Black Panther, and Roma told interesting sociopolitical and cultural stories. The Favourite and A Star Is Born hosted the best acting performances of the year. I can’t say the same for Green Book, which neither defied boundaries nor was artistically game-changing like its fellow nominees.