If the cloud of the #MeToo movement and sexual misconduct allegations hovered over the proceedings at Oscars 2018, the 2019 Oscars had been preceded by a number of controversies as well, most of which arose from the Academy announcing various decisions and going back on them immediately at the slightest outcry.
First, it was the Best Popular Film category, which many thought was formed so that the Academy would not have to give Best Picture to Black Panther. After the backlash, the Academy’s response was quick and the category was scrapped. Then the would-be host Kevin Hart came under fire when his past homophobic comments were brought to light. Hart chose to withdraw himself before the Academy could take a decision about him. The Oscars did not have a host this year — probably since nobody wanted to be scrutinised for their past actions or social media posts.
Anyway, the Oscars 2019 ceremony kicked off with Regina King, not surprisingly, bagging the Best Supporting Actress award for her performance in Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk. Based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name, the movie is a love story set in the Harlem neighbourhood of New York City.
The biggest award in Oscars 2019, Best Picture, was taken home by Great Depression era biographical drama Green Book. And that was also the biggest surprise of the night. None of the controversies — whether related to writer Nick Vallelonga’s alleged anti-Muslim tweet in 2015 or Viggo Mortensen’s utterance of the N-word, for which he apologised later — affected the film’s awards season run in the lead-up to the Oscars.
Mahershala Ali won the second Oscar of his career for Green Book, this one as well in the Best Supporting Actor category. Ali had won the same trophy in 2017 for his performance in Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.
The Best Actor award went to Rami Malek for his performance as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie was plagued with controversy after director Bryan Singer’s “unexpected unavailability” on the film’s set. Something tells us it might (also) have something to do with sexual abuse allegations against him, allegations that followed the movie long after his ties with the film were severed. The movie, despite mixed reviews, became a commercial success and is the highest-grossing biopic in the history of cinema. And today, it took home four Oscars as well. Bohemian Rhapsody also won the Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing trophies.
Olivia Colman bagged the Best Actress trophy for her work in The Favourite. She played the role of 18th century British Queen Anne in the film. Colman gave the character a sulky, childish disposition who finds comfort in her pet rabbits and her confidante, Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) with whom she is in a sexual relationship — unbeknown to everybody else. Interestingly, Colman will play another monarch in Netflix’s The Crown Season 3 — the incumbent Queen Elizabeth II.
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Five nominations and an ‘honorary’ Academy Award later, Spike Lee finally won an Oscar for BlackKklansman, albeit in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. BlackKklansman was a true-story drama about an African-American cop who successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan’s local unit in Colorado Springs with the help of a white colleague. Lee gave the film modern relevance by establishing the connection between 1970s’ events involving the Klan with contemporary happenings in Donald Trump’s America.
Lady Gaga won the first Academy Award of her career — in the Best Original Song category for “Shallow” from the movie A Star is Born. A tearful Gaga told the audience, “This is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time. It’s not about winning — what it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion, and it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or get beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and keep going.”
Free Solo nabbed the Best Documentary Feature trophy. The acclaimed 96-minute film is about rock climber Alex Honnold performing a free solo climb of El Capitan rock formation of Yosemite National Park.
Adam McKay’s political satire Vice took home the trophy for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. No surprises here. Christian Bale, known for his radical physical transformations, played Dick Cheney, the Machiavellian vice president of the United States, who, it is said, effectively ruled the country during the Bush regime and made decisions on Iraq invasion and the War on Terror. Bale was given thick makeup to give his head the bald, round look of Cheney. Others like Amy Adams (Cheney’s wife, Lynne Vincent Cheney), Steve Carell (Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld) and Sam Rockwell (George W Bush) also underwent similar alterations.
In Black Panther, a Marvel movie which is set in a fictional African nation called Wakanda, the characters were as comfortable with modernity and new technology as they were with age-old traditions and rituals. The costumes in this movie represented that, and the movie took home the Best Costume Design award. Black Panther is the first Oscar-winning film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Panther also won in the Best Production Design and Best Original Score categories.
Also Read | Oscars 2019: Roma and Bohemian Rhapsody win big
Alfonso Cuaron won in the Best Director and Best Cinematography categories for Roma. The Netflix movie, which dominated the awards season had won the coveted Golden Lion award at Venice Film Festival 2018, making it an Oscar hopeful. The film, set in the 1970s, was about the domestic help of a middle-class family in Mexico City. It was the first time Cuaron shot a whole movie himself. Roma also won in the Best Foreign Language Film category. That win ended the prospects for it taking the Best Picture trophy.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse won the Best Animated Feature. Did anybody really have any doubts about this? A psychedelic ode to Spider-Man and all things comic-book, this movie had tremendous love and hard work behind it, and the calibre of the crew showed in every single frame of the final product. The only problem one might have with Spider-Verse, as a friend put it, is whether to pay attention to stunning visuals, the phenomenal, blazing fast story or the amazing soundtrack. Best animated film of 2018? It was the best superhero film of the year, period.
Period. End of Sentence., a film on taboo surrounding menstruation in India, took home the Best Documentary Short award. The film was executive produced by Guneet Monga, who was also behind films like The Lunchbox and Masaan.
Best Visual Effects trophy was grabbed by First Man. The film, starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, was based on the first manned lunar mission by NASA and was praised for faithfully rendering the surface of the moon. This is a huge victory for First Man, considering movies like Avengers: Infinity War and Ready Player One were also in the race.
BlackKklansman and Green Book won the Best Original and Best Adapted Screenplay trophies, respectively.