Academy Awards ceremony filled with surprises, good and bad

Courtesy of Mark Ralston | Getty Images
Bong Joon Ho gestures to director Martin Scorcese during his acceptance speech.

Griffin Sendek | Photo Editor


The Oscars, a yearly extravaganza of elegant dresses and finely tailored tuxedos where the biggest movie stars and filmmakers duke it out for the ultimate honor of being handed little gold statues, aired on ABC this past Sunday night.

This year’s lengthy three and a half-hour show made history, awarding Parasite, a South Korean film from visionary director Bong Joon Ho, with Best Picture.  Parasite is the first foreign-language film in the Academy Awards’ 92-year legacy to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture.

For the second consecutive year, the Oscars went hostless — a decision that first came about last year when Kevin Hart, the planned host for 2019, stepped down from the role after several homophobic tweets from years prior had resurfaced.

One of the biggest trends at the Oscars in recent years is making fun of the Oscars history of being a very white and male-centric awards show.

“Think how much the Oscars have changed in the past 92 years,” Steve Martin said alongside Chris Rock in the show’s opening stand-up bit.

“And now in 2020, we got one!” Chris Rock added.

In lieu of a host, the Academy awards elected to instead go for big stars and big moments to keep audiences entertained. Some of these so-called big moments were an unprecedented amount of musical performances.

While having one or two of the best original song nominees perform live at the Oscars is not unusual, Sunday night’s show ended up being a remarkably musical affair.

The show opened with Janelle Monae singing “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which upon the toss of her jacket, transformed into a rip-roaring dance number with Billy Porter and ensemble costumed as characters from 2019s popular films.

The musical lineup mostly of the best Original Song nominees, such as Idina Menzel singing “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II. She is joined by the rest of the foreign voice cast for Elsa, each singing lines in their respective languages. Other Oscar-nominated musical numbers included Chrissy Metz singing “I’m Standing with You” from Breakthrough, Cynthia Erivo giving an enchanting performance of “Stand Up” from Harriet, Randy Newman singing the adorable “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4 and finally, Elton John, with the fun and later-announced Best-Original-Song-winning, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.”

Other musical numbers included Billie Eilish with an excellent rendition of the Beatles’ “Yesterday” during the In Memorium segment of the night, as well as Utkarsh Ambudkar’s seemingly random addition of rapping about the Oscars night so far.

But the most absurd and unexpected musical number was Eminem appearing onstage for an 18-year-too-late performance of his Oscar-winning song, “Lose Yourself.” While not a bad presentation, Eminem’s appearance was greeted by looks of utter shock and confusion from the audience.

Hollywood veterans Brad Pitt and Laura Dern earned their first acting Oscars Sunday night. Best Supporting Actor went to Pitt for his role in Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood and Best Supporting Actress went to Dern for her performance in Marriage Story. Pitt had previously won an Oscar for producing but never before for acting.

Joker, which came out the gate running this awards season with 11 Oscar nominations — the most of any film — only took home a modest two awards, winning Best Original Score and Best Actor in a Leading Role.

Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite ended the night with four Oscars, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best International Film and closing the show with Best Picture under its belt.

Martin Scorcese’s Netflix hit The Irishman began the night with 10 nominations and left empty-handed, being beaten out by other films at every possible turn.

Scorcese did not go without recognition though; during Joon Ho’s Best Director acceptance speech, he acknowledged the acclaimed director.

“When I was in school, I studied Martin Scorsese’s films. Just to be nominated was a huge honor. I never thought I would win,” Joon Ho said.

Joon Ho was incredibly grateful for his Best Director win and was especially honored to be named among the other nominated directors.

“And Todd [Phillips] and Sam [Mendes], great directors that I admire,” Joon Ho said in his acceptance speech. “If the Academy allows, I would like to get a Texas chainsaw, split the award into five and share it with all of you.”